COVID-19 business survey results released

OCALA, Fla. (May 18, 2020) — The College of Central Florida, the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership and the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau have released the findings of a survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy.

The COVID-19 Business Impact Survey was distributed by the CEP from April 13-23. The survey was designed to allow business executives to voice their concerns about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on their business.

The inspiration for the survey came from Florida Gulf Coast University’s work with its local chamber of commerce organizations in the southwest Florida region. Abraham Matthews, CF assistant professor of Business, Technology and Career and Technical Education, created the survey with the help of Dr. Christopher Wesley, the lead researcher on the FGCU project.

The Tourist Development Council was responsible for bringing CF and FGCU together to share the expertise that subsequently allowed the survey to be expedited and deployed in the Ocala/Marion County area.

Most of the survey respondents were small businesses in industries such as restaurant, construction, health care and manufacturing. Surveys were completed by 199 businesses, and results were compiled and analyzed by Matthews. Overall results showed:

  • 87% of respondents said that customer demand in their business had declined as a result of COVID-19, with just over half reporting that customer demand had declined over 50%.
  • The vast majority of companies (67%) laid off or reduced work hours for less than 20% of their employees.
  • More than 80% of the respondents felt that the impact would not have any “permanent adverse effects.”
  • 85% of the respondents were owners, CEOs, or key decision-makers.

“This is a great snapshot of how businesses responded to the pandemic,” said Kevin Sheilley, president and CEO of the CEP. “And while there was certainly plenty of disruption in Ocala, the resiliency of our local businesses will be on full display in the months to come.”

The full results of the survey can be found at The Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County conducted a similar survey aimed at measuring the impact on the nonprofit community. The results of that survey can be found at

A follow-up survey involving the same group of community partners will be conducted in six months. Sheilley will be the spokesperson for this survey, with planned presentations in the coming weeks for Ocala City Council, Marion County Board of Commissioners, and the TDC Board. Additional entities or businesses interested in having Sheilley present should call 352-629-8051, ext. 105.

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