Florida SBDC Network, Florida Chamber Foundation, UWF Haas Center Unveil COVID-19 Small Business Study

New report shows Florida small businesses hit hard by coronavirus pandemic

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, Florida Chamber Foundation, and University of West Florida Haas Center are pleased to release The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Florida’s Small Businesses, a new study examining the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s small businesses and extent of damage to their business operations.

PanelPreliminary findings from the study were unveiled last week during a panel at the Florida Chamber’s virtual Future of Florida Forum event. The session was moderated by Florida Representative Randy Fine and featured panelists Dr. Cheryl Kirby, interim CEO of the Florida SBDC Network; Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation; and Nicole Gislason, Executive Director of the University of West Florida Haas Center.

“Small businesses are critical to Florida’s economy,” said Dr. Cheryl Kirby, interim CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “This has been an incredibly challenging time for our state’s small businesses. This survey represents an important opportunity for our organizations to come together to give small businesses a voice when they need it most.”

To understand the scope of impact of the pandemic on the state’s small businesses and the implications for Florida’s economy, the researchers first investigated the contributions of businesses with fewer than 100 employees on the state’s economy. Analysis shows that 60 percent of net new job gains in Florida since 2012 have come from small businesses with less than 100 employees, confirming the important role small businesses play in the state’s economy.

“Florida’s small businesses are the foundation of our economy,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, chief economist at the Florida Chamber Foundation. “Small businesses have been seriously impacted and this survey represents an opportunity for us to help craft a strategy for their recovery.”

Temporarily Closed Sign

Several results emerged in this study. The study revealed that more than half of businesses either voluntarily closed or were forced to close their doors, with more than 30 percent revealing their operations were still suspended during the time of the survey. The report also found that 40 percent of businesses reported closing their doors due to COVID-19.

Many business leaders indicated that they are struggling financially with 85.1 percent indicating they had lost revenue. The majority of small businesses responding to the survey sought state and federal funding, however accessing this assistance proved more challenging for some businesses. Many respondents expressed their need for additional support to stay in business.

"The study illustrates the significant uncertainty that exists among small businesses in the state, with a staggering 60.8 percent revealing they are extremely concerned about the economy and 45.4 percent expressing their concern about their ability to continue operations,” said Nicole Gislason, Executive Director of the UWF Haas Center. “Our hope is that the data collected through the survey may serve as the foundation to aid in their recovery moving forward.”

The study, which was conducted August 4 to September 1, is based on survey responses from more than 4,800 small businesses statewide. The Florida SBDC Network, Florida Chamber Foundation, and UWF Haas Center will be releasing additional insights regarding the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, including those identifying as minority-owned, women-owned, and those in rural communities.

For more information, and to view the study, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org/COVIDStories.