This article was written by Telly Tucker, Director of Arlington Economic Development.
We’re now in the sixth week of various shutdowns, teleworking, staff reductions and other challenges in Arlington as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Arlington Economic Development (AED) has been closely monitoring the effects on all our businesses.
In the latter half of March, just as the gravity of the situation was beginning to emerge, we conducted our first COVID-19 business survey. We had more than 600 businesses take the survey, which concluded on March 30 — coincidentally, the day before the April 1 Stay at Home Executive Order took effect in Virginia.
But even before that order was in place, it came as no surprise for us to learn that Arlington businesses were impacted — some significantly. Overall, the majority of our business respondents reported declining sales, hiring freezes, supply chain disruptions and delayed or canceled investments, with a considerable number having laid off workers as a result of the pandemic.
More than 70% of all Arlington businesses, and more than 90% of small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees), said COVID-19 was “extremely disruptive” or “very disruptive” to their business operations. Additional details on survey results can be found on our website.
Across the varied results, the most pressing need respondents identified was financial assistance, everything from grant assistance to SBA economic injury assistance, tax payment assistance to landlord assistance. Remember — these results were even prior to the Stay at Home order. AED has been working diligently to connect companies to resources while working to develop some of our own.
Last week we announced the creation of the Arlington Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term) Program, which will provide up to $10K in funds for businesses who need to keep up with payroll, rent and other expenses during the pandemic. We plan to have the application process open in early May; to receive future communications as details about the GRANT program are finalized, please add yourself to the mailing list on our GRANT page.
Additionally, we set up a COVID-19 Business Support section on our website, which covers everything from lists of restaurants providing carryout/delivery options to special offers from local businesses. We’re also providing the latest breakdowns on CARES Act and SBA actions as well as free webinars and counseling for businesses to help them navigate the various assistance programs and resources out there.
Finally, AED has just launched Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Arlington business survey. Each week brings new challenges and we understand the importance of keeping up-to-date on the impacts being felt by our community.
If you represent a business in Arlington, please take a few moments to complete this new survey in English or Spanish so AED can continue to assist you. The survey will remain active through April 30. Some of the questions may seem repetitive if you took our first survey, but we ask for your participation to help us continue to monitor the situation and aid us in developing appropriate resources and communications.