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Results of small business survey show where owners need help

Posted at 3:26 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 20:27:11-04

Many small businesses are struggling after the pandemic shut down a number of industries. Recently, more than 2,400 small businesses gave their thoughts on how various levels of government are helping them during this tough time.

Nate Chai, who heads up the Pro Engagement Team at Thumbtack, says "the purpose of the survey is really to find out how small businesses across the country feel about the public policies that they're working with at the local, state and national levels. Do they feel supported? Do they feel the right policies are in place? Are things changing year-over-year for them?"

Thumbtack, an online company that connects people with local independent professionals in industries like construction, wellness and music, conducts a small business friendliness survey every year.

This year, they wanted to check in with the small businesses on their site to see how they were doing amid this COVID-19 pandemic.

"What we did notice is that there were strong divergent between how many felt their states and local governments were doing versus what they saw from the federal government. To put that in perspective, we saw many states score A, A- or B in terms of that local response but at the federal level people almost universally what people were seeing was not good enough," said Chai.

Chai says overwhelmingly, small business owners gave the federal government an F when it came to their response.

"We saw several states earn Fs and unfortunately the worst of those, starting from the bottom up were Arizona followed by Oregon, Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee," said Chai.

The highest ranked states were Vermont, which received an A+, followed by A ratings for Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and an A for Maryland.

Gerard Cassagnol, the Engineering and Operations Manager for Trevor Technical Solutions in Maryland, took part in the survey.

"It started off really good here in Maryland. They were very proactive in how to address the pandemic. What I basically mean is they were going by the science," Cassagnol said.

Cassagnol says the funding, though, from State and Federal levels, was lacking, as well as information and guidance about programs and how to operate has been inconsistent.

Cassagnol says before the pandemic, 80 percent of his company's revenue came from work from the government. Over the last three months, that dwindled down to 5 percent, putting his business in a dire state and prompting him to lay off staff.

"It's a survival instinct right now that we're operating on," said Cassagnol.

Of the roughly 2,400 businesses that took the survey, 65 percent had only one employee, in that the person owned their business and works alone; 28 percent had two to five employees and the remaining six percent had more than six employees.

"Given what’s going on, it's a great time to consider reaching out to small businesses if you’ve got those projects on the back burners, and finding ways to support small businesses if you have the means," said Chai.

"We've got to find a solution to this. America is going to suffer ultimately if the small business isn't there," said Cassagnol.

Thumbtack is encouraging people to support their local businesses in any way they can right now as many feel uncertain when or if they will recover from this economic downturn.