Grand Forks’ economy is weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a fall survey of local businesses by Community Futures Boundary (CFB) and the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The pandemic came as city businesses were generally recovering from the fallout of the 2018 freshet, said Sandy Elzinga, manager of economic development at CFB.
“What we’ve witnessed in Grand Forks, time and time again, is that we have a very resilient business community,” she told The Gazette Friday, Jan. 15.
Thirty-one businesses responded to the organizations’ questionnaire asking how they’d fared since the pandemic was declared last spring, explained CFB’s manager of economic development, Sandy Elzinga.
The survey showed that 14 businesses (roughly 45 per cent) were still affected by delayed supply chains as of late November. The same number reported sustained or increased revenues over the survey period, with 5 businesses (around 16 per cent) reporting revenue losses of 50 per or more. Seven businesses, or 22.5 per cent, reported losses of between 16 and 50 per cent.
The vast majority of respondents (90 per cent, or 28 businesses) reported having accessed “additional supports,” including business loans, rent relief and wage subsidies, and interest-free loans under the federal government’s Canadian Emergency Business Account program.
Just over one-third (34 per cent) of businesses said they saw a drop in their clientele, with 28 per cent seeing an increase in local patronage and 38 per cent reporting no significant change.
Elzinga said the survey shows that, on the whole, “we’re moving forward” from the pandemic.
“I think many businesses have started to pivot in response to COVID,” she said, noting that many are “changing their operations and restructuring as they address health guidelines put in place buy the province.”
The bulk of responding businesses, nearly 39 per cent, were in the retail sector. The second largest proportion, or nearly 13 per cent, were in agriculture, according to the survey’s results.