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Data shows some Columbia businesses don’t feel ready to reopen

COLUMBIA Mo. (KMIZ)

Results from a recent survey show some Columbia businesses do not feel ready to reopen to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our businesses are taking this very seriously as much as many of them want to open immediately, they also don't want a resurgence," said Nickie Davis, the executive director of The District.

The Downtown Community Improvement District put out two surveys. One is aimed at businesses about the re-opening process. The other is a public survey about feeling ready to shop and eat out again.

Both surveys were available for participation from May 11 to May 20.

According to The District, there were 833 general public responses to the survey and 61 businesses responded to the survey.

The survey asked if the businesses feel ready to reopen to the public. Of the 61 businesses, 10 said they do not feel ready and 14 said they do not feel ready but are offering curbside or delivery services.

On the other side, 20 businesses said that they are either fully or partially open.

Meanwhile, 17 businesses selected "other." Some explained in the comments section of the survey that they were doing things like offering appointments and limiting the number of customers in their store.

More than 75% of businesses who responded to the survey say they do have a plan ready for a safe reopening.

Source: The District Business Survey

"They are the ones that are in the thick of it, they're the ones with the feet on the ground, our businesses are our lifeblood is the heartbeat of Columbia," Davis said. "We want to make sure that we hear their voices so that we understand where their mindset is."

Surveys were sent out via email and newsletter and questions were created from relevant local issues mixed with questions from other cities' surveys.

The questions touched on a myriad of subjects. Some of the major points were in regard to mask policies, curbside pickup and parking.

"Honestly, it was a very split line of whether businesses wanted to have a mandated mask policy or not," Davis said. "One of the things that the public did say is that they do feel safer when people are wearing masks, employees and customers."

Source: The District Business Survey

The data also shows 75% of businesses saw at least a 50% decrease in revenue when comparing April 2020 to April 2019.

Revenue was also a point of conversation in the State of the City address Thursday.

City Manager John Glascock said the revenue timeline was setting the city of Columbia back.

"That's the biggest challenge is revenue's lag, with all these things are happening," Glascock said. "We know people have been out of work, in April but we don't know what impact that has to our budget until June."

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce also released the results of its survey Thursday night. The results appeared to show that most people were satisfied with guidance from Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Humans Services.

The Chamber surveyed 177 individuals, 152 of which are members of the Chamber.

Part of the survey was focused on the reopening phases and guidelines by the health department and what the experience was in applying the guidelines.

Of the 177 respondents, 30% said "very good" with no problems and 49% indicated "good." 13% said "poor," meaning they had difficulty navigating the guidelines, and 8% said "very poor."

The survey also found that 41% of respondents felt the Chamber's top priority should be to continue collaborating with local government as a representative of business.

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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto started working with ABC 17 News in June after graduating from California State University-Channel Islands with a degree in organizational communication. He reports weekday evenings and weekend mornings.

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