Report: Washtenaw County Businesses Take 19% Hit During Pandemic

Total revenue of Washtenaw County businesses was down 19 percent in 2020 from the prior year, according to a new report by EntryPoint, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit research institution.
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EntryPoint graphic
Total revenue of Washtenaw County businesses was down 19 percent in 2020 from the prior year, according to a report by EntryPoint. // Image courtesy of EntryPoint

Total revenue of Washtenaw County businesses was down 19 percent in 2020 from the prior year, according to a new report by EntryPoint, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit research institution.

While seasonal revenue makes up a bit over 10 percent of the county’s business revenue, it consisted of only 9 percent of total revenue in 2020.

Like elsewhere in the state, companies in the hospitality, hotel, restaurants, and service sector were hit particularly hard last year. Entities in those sectors earned 42 percent less revenue in 2020 than in 2019, while entertainment, events, and sports sector businesses earned 35 percent less.

The revenue of companies in the business and professional services sector was down 28 percent from 2019. Retail businesses had an overall increase in their seasonal revenue, which consisted of 15 percent of their revenue in 2020 (up from 10 percent in 2019).

“Small businesses are a vital part of Washtenaw County’s economy,” says Emily Heintz, founder and managing director of EntryPoint. “Now that it’s nearly a year since the initial onset of the pandemic, we wanted to follow up with entrepreneurs to gain further insight into the impact it has continued to have on their businesses, work environment, mental health, and find out what the community can do to remain diligent in their support of local businesses.

“Fortunately, as many of the findings in this report suggest, Washtenaw County’s business owners have demonstrated an inspiring ability to carefully navigate their way through a difficult time in human history.”

EntryPoint surveyed all businesses in the county, 459 of which responded. Of the respondents, 76 percent operate with fewer than 10 employees, and 93 percent of companies have fewer than 25 employees.

To combat the adverse COVID-19 business climate, 71 percent of county firms have applied for loans. In May 2020, 74 percent of applicants had been approved for the Paycheck Protection Program. Since then, approvals have increased to 92 percent of applicants. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of those applicants already have had their PPP loan forgiven.

Part of the survey asked about the work environment and the state of mind of the business owners. They responded:

  • In May 2020, 37 percent of business owners indicated that they felt completely unprepared for shelter-in-place operations. Now, 50 percent of businesses have staff working entirely or almost entirely in a virtual capacity.
  • 27 percent of business owners indicated that they would maintain their virtual operations for the foreseeable future.
  • 76 percent of business owners report feeling notably more stressed now than they did prior to the onset of the pandemic.

According to the results of the survey, EntryPoint offers suggestions for the general public to assist small businesses in Washtenaw County.

Twenty-seven percent of businesses said people could most help them through word-of-mouth advertising. The remaining business owners who participated in the study stated that the public could best support them simply by offering them their business and patronage.

Financial support, according to 29 percent of entrepreneurs, continues to be a way for community organizations to alleviate some of the pressure small businesses face. Another 29 percent reported that organizations could be of most help by encouraging the public to support local businesses, while 31 percent stated that the organizations would be most helpful by providing marketing support.

For more information and a look at the complete findings, visit here.

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