Almost two months ago, when this whole COVID-19 situation started getting serious, there was a lot of work to be done – and done quickly.
Fort Worth is the thirteenth largest city in the country – it’s a lot to pivot. The flood of new challenges facing our city’s business owners, across every industry, was overwhelming. The situation was emotionally charged, constantly changing, and completely unprecedented.
The only way that the city and its community partners could begin to wrap our heads around the full scope of COVID-19’s impact on businesses, and start working together to find solutions, was through data.
The Fort Worth Business Survey
When the first emergency declaration was announced in mid-March, the City of Fort Worth’s Economic Development team launched a survey targeted to local business owners, with the goal of identifying and categorizing major concerns across industries. We also hoped to learn more about whether businesses’ remote work and leave policies (if they existed in the first place) could accommodate a scenario like this one.
More than 1,000 businesses across Fort Worth provided their feedback, and we identified some top concerns:
· Revenue / cash flow challenges
· Rent and lease expenses
· Debt relief
· Utility expenses
These issues became the foundational structure around which the City of Fort Worth built its COVID-19 Business Resources pages, creating a one-stop-shop that highlights the skills and expertise of our community partners and how they can best be utilized by local businesses.
The survey data also laid the foundation for some key city initiatives, like the Business Resiliency Microloan program, the Protect the Fort Grant Program, and other projects currently being worked on that will help provide Fort Worth’s businesses with enough revenue to keep things afloat.
The Business Survey Strikes Back
A lot’s happened since March. Texas is starting to reopen, and things are still evolving now that it looks like the economic effects of COVID-19 will linger for a while.
In that spirit, the city’s Economic Development Department has launched a second survey with a new focus: trying to understand where businesses are now, and how we can help.
This survey, which all business owners in Fort Worth are encouraged to take, is available atfortworthtexas.gov/covid-19-business-survey in both English and Spanish.
Unlike the first survey, these survey questions are set up to build upon the current state of your business. Is it open, and doing well? Has it temporarily closed, or pivoted partially to online/curbside operations? Has it completely closed down? Or is it somewhere in between?
This survey also explores what types of financial support (if any) local business owners have applied for, whether or not they were eligible or aware of such programs, and whether or not they received the funding they needed.
All of this information is very important, as it allows the city and its partners to identify where the stress points are and focus future resources where they’ll have the most impact. Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and a “one solution fits all” approach just won’t cut it right now.
So whether your business needs help with supply chain issues, moving operations online / training with digital tools, or just needs access to personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves so operations can continue without risking the health of employees or customers – we want to hear from you, because we want to help.
About the Author
Andrea Duffie has more than a decade’s experience leading projects that help organizations of all kinds – from nonprofits to government – tell their stories through integrated communications. She’s currently a Communications Officer at the City of Fort Worth, where she provides marketing support across multiple channels for the city’s Economic Development Department, Park & Recreation Department, the city website, and other initiatives.