The United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) August 12 committee of the whole agenda will include a summary report from the second business survey on the regional effect of the pandemic. Results of this survey and its predecessor, noted Carole Lavigne, UCPR director for economic development and tourism, will prove significant for Prescott-Russell’s future economic strategy.
“It will tell us which sector, or sectors, we should concentrate on and how we can innovate,” she said during a July 21 phone interview.
In May during the early stages of the pandemic and the provincial lockdown, the UCPR’s economic development department did an online survey of the region’s businesses, seeking information on how the pandemic was affecting their operations, how they were able to adapt or if they were able to adapt, if they had to lay off employees, and what kind of help they needed to survive the pandemic.
More than 400 responses were received from the first survey. The results indicated that tourism was one of the hardest-hit sectors because of the provincial restriction on unnecessary travel, and that some businesses in other sectors had to cut back on some of their operating expenses, which included either laying off staff or reducing employee hours. A few businesses were able to adapt their operations to deal with the pandemic situation and continue to thrive. Many respondents stated that the senior levels of government needed to provide support programs for business struggling during the pandemic.
The UCPR’s follow-up survey began in late June with a July 15 deadline for business owners to take part. The focus was to collect further information on how the various business sectors had coped during the pandemic since the introduction of senior-level government support, how many needed and took advantage of the aid, how businesses fared with or without government support, and how they adapted to the social changes resulting from the pandemic.
“We are still compiling results,” Lavigne said, regarding data collection for the survey evaluation report. “At the moment we’re at 279 responses (compiled).”
Once all the responses are compiled, Lavigne’s staff will be able to analyze them, and determine any trends. She noted that results of the two surveys will also assist with a revision of the UCPR’s current strategic economic development plan.
“We’re in the middle of doing that at the same time as this (survey report),” she said.