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Each year Southeast Conference asks regional business owners and top managers to complete a business climate survey allowing policy leaders, program developers, and project proponents to form projections regarding the economic direction of Southeast Alaska. In 2020 businesses were also asked to provide information regarding how COVID-19 has been impacting their business operations, and 460 Southeast business leaders provided their insights.

The survey was developed in a partnership between Southeast Conference, Spruce Root, the City and Borough of Wrangell, the Petersburg Borough, the Sitka Economic Development Association, the Haines Chamber of Commerce, and the Skagway Development Corporation. Rain Coast Data designed and administered the survey and developed the analysis.

The survey results include the following findings:

•  Just over half of businesses have received COVID-19 support funding, including 47% that received PPP funding.

•  Responding employers have already laid off 18.6% their total workforce due to the COVID-19 virus and cancelled hiring an additional 3,630 workers - mostly in the tourism sector. One-quarter of businesses expect to cut more staff.

•  Regional business revenue was down 57% on average in 2020 so far, compared to the same period in 2019. By industry, the tourism and arts sectors have experienced the greatest revenue losses, while mining and timber have seen the smallest reductions. Businesses in Skagway and Haines reported the highest revenue losses in the region.

•  One-quarter of respondents say that they are at risk closing permanently, while one-third say that are not at risk of closure. The mining and finance industries have the lowest risk of closing due to the pandemic, while child care facilities, social service providers, and food and drink establishments have the greatest risk.

•  89% of respondents call the current economy poor or very poor, and 62% feel that the upcoming year will be worse.