NAPERVILLE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE RELEASES SOBERING RESULTS COVID-19 BUSINESS IMPACT SURVEY
Today, the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors issued the results of its two-week survey of 155 local businesses and nonprofits, showing that nearly one third had less than two months of cash reserves before facing a permanent shutdown. In solidarity with our membership, individual Board leaders pooled together contributions to fund a full-page ad in the Daily Herald, outlining the survey results and supporting a responsible re-opening of businesses.
“We gathered hard data to show the impact that COVID-19 and the resulting shutdowns have had for local businesses and nonprofits,” says Ian Holzhauer, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “The survey intentionally sought facts, not just opinions: How large is your business? How long until you run out of cash? The results were sobering for me — not just in my Chamber capacity, but as a small business employee, a community member, and as a father. Our local businesses, employees, and families — the heart and soul of Naperville — are facing imminent, catastrophic, and irreparable harm.”
“We have been working hard for our members, and all businesses during this pandemic. We’ve had so many conversations with local and federal officials, it was time to show our members where we stand,” said Kaylin Risvold, President and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. “NACC says we are Your Advocate, and that is something I want all members to really know. We are working so hard each day through many different channels both public and behind the scenes to advocate to reopen right and reopen responsibly.”
The advocacy efforts by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce have taken many forms since the onset of this crisis. NACC is one of the only Chambers in Illinois outside of Chicago with a dedicated full-time advocacy staffer.
In the early weeks, NACC directed efforts to be a vetted source of financial resources available to businesses. As health officials gained more experience regarding the spread of the virus and more agreed upon health protections required, NACC has now changed focus toward “HOW” businesses can re-open safely and profitably.
“NACC is resolute in paving the way for an expedited yet safe re-opening process for our members. We are in conversations to determine what concerns and barriers exist that impedes this process and how as an organization we work to address these concerns.”, said Reba Osborne, Director of Government Affairs for NACC. “I’ve been on countless phone calls with various industries to learn what is needed. Social distancing requirements significantly change how a business operates and what additional resources are needed.”
“In an effort to address this pandemic, our local, state, and federal governments took extraordinary measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Through those measures, vast segments of our local and national economies were completely shut down,” said Sean LaFortune, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Board Member. “We have long since passed the time to take the steps necessary to open those businesses back up. Not doing so risks permanent and irreparable harm to our community. Continued closure of these businesses will have long-lasting catastrophic consequences for our local and national economy, which in turn will create more harm to our community than the pandemic itself. The single most important thing I can do as a Naperville Chamber of Commerce Board Member is to provide my full support in the re-opening of the state.”
“Reopening business is like raising a tent, each side must be lifted in concert,” Osborne continued. “Infrastructure such as childcare to ensure an adequate workforce, dependable supply of PPEs, quality training to the new norm for health standards must be addressed along with the urgency to re-open businesses before the loss of revenues result in permanent closures.”
It is those permanent closures the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce is trying to avoid, “We want businesses to have the ability to reopen, but we know they need to reopen responsibly,” Risvold said. “Our businesses need time to learn, train, and prepare for a safe and responsible reopening. We must ensure businesses have access to masks, sanitizers, as well as childcare for their employees’ children. While we understand we cannot flip a switch and go back to normal overnight, we must give businesses an opportunity to prepare to return to work. We need to responsibly restore our businesses, so together, we can help Restore Illinois.”
Check out all upcoming NACC events including a Town Hall with Congressman Bill Foster and Congressman Sean Casten on Friday, May 8, and a Conversation with NACC on Responsible Reopening on Tuesday, May 12 at www.naperville.net.
Full statement from the Board of Directors:
The Future of our Community Rests on Responsibly Reopening
Dear Naperville Area Residents, County, and State Officials:
The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce surveyed 155 local member businesses and nonprofits, of which 50% had 10 or fewer employees, about the impact of the prolonged state lockdown. The responses, gathered over the past two weeks, are sobering:
- Only 13% of respondents were fully open for business as usual
- 44% of respondents expected to continue to reduce staff hours over the next few weeks
- 64% of respondents have had either a significant loss of business or worse
- 10% were on the verge of losing their business immediately
- 32% of respondents reported having less than two months of reserves left before they would be permanently forced to close
In other words, nearly one-third of our area businesses and nonprofits face total liquidation this Spring, with all the collateral consequences of job losses, loss of the pool of available charitable contributions, destruction of small independent business, and permanent harm to the identity and soul of the Naperville area.
Through the brave efforts of our community and our first responders, the COVID infection curve has flattened, and the burden on our health system has thankfully been reduced. Our researchers have identified higher and lower risk groups, best sanitation practices, and protective equipment recommendations to tailor our response moving forward. Our businesses are ready to execute a balanced plan to learn, train, and responsibly reopen. By sharing Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommendations, as well as offering assistance with implementation, our Chamber commits to helping our businesses to continue to act responsibly to ensure the safety of their employees and their customers.
While we understand we cannot flip a switch and go back to normal overnight, our survey results are unequivocal: If local businesses and nonprofits are not permitted to execute their responsible reopening plans, our entire community – employees, small business owners, and families, will face catastrophic and irreparable harm.
Ian Holzhauer and Kaylin Risvold
Chairman of the Board, and President and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, respectively