Survey: Central Iowa businesses shake up operations amid COVID-19 outbreak

Many central Iowa businesses have altered operations during the COVID-19 outbreak. Shown is downtown Des Moines along the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. (Photo by Perry Beeman, Iowa Capital Dispatch)

An unscientific online survey by the Greater Des Moines Partnership revealed ways the more than 600  businesses have been affected the COVID-19 outbreak.

In results the Central Iowa business organization released Thursday, many business representatives said they have changed business practices and policies because of the spread of the new coronavirus, including laying off workers. Many said they expect more changes.

Eighty Central Iowa businesses said they need help, and 80 offered to help others.

Overall, the survey explored the biggest challenges and main responses.

Biggest challenges:

— Impact on local and small businesses, 89%

— Overall public health, 80%

— Impact on medical professionals and systems, 69%

— Long-term effect on the U.S. economy, 66%

Actions businesses took:

— Shared frequent updates with employees and the public, 64%

— Rescheduled large meetings and events, 63%

— Changed operations, 62%

— Updated organizational priorities, policies, procedures, 61%

— Increased cleaning of workspaces and common areas, 60%

— Restricted spending, 47%

— Switched to remote working, 41%

Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO Jay Byers. (Photo courtesy of the Partnership)

“Our region is continuing to react to the evolving challenges associated with COVID-19, and so many businesses and organizations are pivoting quickly to come up with innovative solutions and offer help to others in the community,” Partnership CEO Jay Byers said in a statement. “Although these survey results underscore the challenges so many in our region face, we are also encouraged by the countless examples of people in our community coming together, supporting each other, supporting local businesses and keeping a positive attitude in the face of uncertainty.”

Nearly half, 49%, of the respondents didn’t expect to need financial assistance while 13% wondered if their business would survive the financial challenges of the outbreak.

Nearly a quarter of respondents, 24%, said their business is likely to need assistance of up to $100,000. Others expect their needs to exceed that level.

The Partnership plans to contact businesses that said they need help, match those that can provide resources and continue work on the COVID-19 online resource hubDSM Employment Ready initiativeDSM Local Challenge and #DSMstrong.

The survey was distributed to Greater Des Moines Partnership stakeholders via e-newsletter, e-mail communications, social media channels, and outside media. Responses were accepted from March 16 to 24. Most responses came within the first few days.