Results from an online Mercer Island business survey, which was conducted in late July through mid-August, have been released.

The 18-question survey stemmed from a partnership between the city, the Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce and other local business community advocates to support Island businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The survey, which included pandemic-related challenges and other business needs, was completed by 269 different businesses in a range of sectors with a variety of incomes and employees.

According to the survey, the primary challenges due to COVID-19 are: Decrease in business (46 percent), understanding the state’s COVID-19 phases and rules (28 percent) and understanding the federal rules around business loans for COVID-19 (27 percent).

In the remedies/changes section, more than half of businesses (52 percent) have chosen to pursue some type of financial assistance, with most (39 percent) taking advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program; most survey participants (78 percent) report that they have made or are considering making changes due to COVID-19; and some are having employees work remotely (11 percent) and are holding meetings over Zoom (11 percent).

In the city programs/assistance section, the survey notes that more than half of businesses (53 percent) were not aware of assistance being offered by the city; interest in potential programs was highest among storefronts who want marketing and promotions assistance; for long-term program options, about a quarter of businesses want the city to address “parking on the north and south end business district (for example, amount of parking, illegal parking),” followed by “funding mechanisms to support local businesses (for example, tax-related

district designation, regional/federal grants)” and “business attraction.”

Some comments from businesses in the survey are: “The City government is doing a good job in most cases and

their efforts are appreciated”; “Sarah Bluvas has been an incredible source for info and has done an admirable job of communicating during this pandemic. Much appreciation!”; “What is being done to promote business of the Island, economic development. What is being done (to) bring business to the old Farmer’s building.”

The city’s consultant presented the results and interpretation during a study session at the Sept. 1 city council meeting, and staff are developing action items.

With funding coming through a grant from the Port of Seattle Economic Development Partnership Program, the research was gathered by Hardwick Research. Members of the RestartMI initiative and Bluvas, small business liaison as part of the city’s emergency operations center, participated in the design and provided input on topics.

For more information and to view the survey, visit https://letstalk.mercergov.org/coronavirus_business

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