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Dear Chamber Members,

Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your Greater Sumter Chamber Team includes: SC Chamber Releases Final COVID-19 Business Survey ResultsaccelerateSC Task Force Holds Second MeetingGreater Sumter Webinar Series

1. SC Chamber Releases Final COVID-19 Business Survey Results

Yesterday, the SC Chamber of Commerce released the final results of its COVID-19 Business Survey. Almost 4,500 businesses from nearly all sectors and representing all sizes responded to the survey, which was open from April 23rd to May 3rd. Nearly seven of ten of the responses came from small businesses. Additionally, last week the Greater Sumter Chamber released it’s Community Guide to Re-Open Sumter. You can view the document here.

“The results of this survey clearly show that our businesses are hurting and need for us to take quick action to get them back on track,” said Pitts. “Governor McMaster lifting the Home-or-Work Order will go a long way toward helping them get back up to operational status, but we must continue to keep the focus on reopening the economy safely for our businesses and employees.”

High points from the survey include:

  • About half of the responses indicate that lack of demand is the biggest challenge for businesses; the next most significant problem is the ability to cover payroll (about 38%).
  • Over 40% of businesses have had to lay-off or furlough employees; nearly 3 in 5 businesses have not had to lay-off or furlough employees.
  • Almost 90% of businesses who responded they have had to lay-off/furlough employees plan to bring at least 50% of those employees back within three months.
  • 40% of businesses have implemented or are considering implementing a pay cut for employees due to COVID-19.
  • Almost two-thirds of businesses are concerned about workplace safety liability (OSHA/Workers Compensation) and premises liability (exposure to customers).
  • At least 37% of respondents have received some kind of federal COVID-19-related relief (Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, etc.). Almost 30% have been denied or are still waiting on an answer.
  • About half of businesses are operating with the partial continuation of sale and delivery of services/products using alternative approaches; close to 3 in 10 businesses are unable to sell services/products during the Stay-at-Home or Work Order and closure of non-essential business orders.
  • Half of the businesses need for all of the Governor’s Orders, including the Stay-at-Home or Work Order (which has lifted since the survey closed) to be lifted to restart and bring employees back full-time.
  • Close to 4 in 5 businesses anticipate placing a heightened focus for the next six to 12 months around employee handwashing, distancing, not allowing employees at work if sick or running a fever, and additional cleaning and disinfecting of the workplace as they begin to restart or ramp up business.

Click here to view the results in entirety.

Using these results and other feedback from our business members, the SC Chamber is developing a “Relief and Recovery Agenda for SC Businesses,” which will we will unveil later this week.

2. accelerateSC Task Force Holds Second Meeting

This afternoon, the full accelerateSC Task Force met for the second time to discuss the work of the five subcommittees: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information.

A resounding theme from all of the subcommittees was the need for increased broadband access and availability. As mentioned by former SC Chamber Chair Lou Kennedy, the SC Chamber has been working with a coalition of stakeholders since last fall on this issue and included it as part of its 2020 Competitiveness Agenda. Below are a few issues we have been monitoring since the COVID-19 crisis began and which the accelerateSC Task Force echoed today: The Greater Sumter Chamber Community Guide mentioned above was presented to the accelerateSC Task Force last week.

  • Education
    • School districts are using three methods to deliver instruction, and only just over a quarter of our students is using eLearning purely:
    • eLearning: 28% of students & 19 districts
    • Paper packets: 8% of students & 17 districts
    • Blended (mix of eLearning & paper packets): 63% of students & 45 districts
  • Telehealth
    • With people reluctant to seek routine care in person, the spotlight is on telehealth. For these visits to be possible, the patient has to have sufficient internet service to conduct virtual visits with their healthcare provider.
  • Maps
    • The SC Hospital Association (SCHA), the SC Office of Rural Health (ORH), and Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) have now made their broadband maps public here.
  • Federal Infrastructure Bill
    • There is the possibility of significant funding for broadband either in the Phase 4 coronavirus legislation OR in a separate infrastructure bill.

The Governor also unveiled a new one-stop-shop website for COVID-19-related resources and information: This site is managed by the SC Department of Administration and designed to connect citizens with critical resources like “How to file for unemployment” and guidance regarding personal protective equipment like gloves and masks.

3. Greater Sumter Chamber Webinar Series: New Offerings This Week

This week, the Greater Sumter Chamber will host two webinars to help members navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and the ever-changing business environment.

State Response to COVID-19 / Future legislation:

  • Date: Tuesday, May 5, 11:00 am ET
  • Presenters: Rep. Murrell Smith, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Sen. Thomas McElveen represented the Sumter delegation. Chris Hardy, President & CEO of the Chamber, moderated the webinar.
  • Description: This webinar focused on the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional information was provided regarding legislation that will be addressed when the general assembly re-convenes next week. Click here to view the full webinar.

Federal Response to COVID-19:

  • Date: Wednesday, May 6, 11:00 am ET
  • Presenters: Congressman Ralph Norman
  • Description: We will be discussing with Congressman Norman the Federal Response to COVID-19 and how it has impacted Sumter and what we can expect on the Federal level in the coming months.
  • Registration: Spots are limited; you must register in advance here.

These and other resources for businesses are available on our website here.

As always, we will keep you up-to-date on any further information as it becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to us here with questions.

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