CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Business owners in all parts of West Virginia are currently being surveyed about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their operations.
The information gathered will be used to help maximize future stimulus funds for West Virginia and direct resources to areas most in need.
“It’s some bad times out there and we’re just trying to get in a position on the recovery side of things to get as much data as we can to solidify our needs for some additional help,” said Shane Whitehair, president of the West Virginia Association of Regional Councils.
WVARC has partnered with the West Virginia Development Office, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce to attempt to measure the economic impact of COVID-19.
There are two surveys being circulated.
The first survey covers amended hours of operation to serve as a resource while the second survey deals with pandemic impact with more than 12 questions about ground-level effects of closures and reductions.
Examples included, “The type of business they are, the location of the business, how they’ve been affected, if they’ve have any furloughs, any closures, any employees being laid off, so forth,” Whitehair said.
“We’ll collect that data and analyze it and we’ll be able to kind of regionalize it and see where a lot of the participation came from. It’s a good resource and we hope folks out there take advantage of it.”
Information was also being collected from those continuing normal operations.
Analysis was to include polling and Geographic Information System, or GIS, mapping to quantify in detailed ways the impact COVID-19 has had regionally.
Once compiled, results will be released to the public.
A stay-home order from Governor Jim Justice took effect on March 24 to try to limit coronavirus spread.
At the same time, closures were called for at business locations not included on a determined “essential” list.
As of last week, WorkForce West Virginia had received 130,000 unemployment claim filings because of the pandemic.
“We’re trying to get in a position to benefit from the stimulus funds that will become available in the near future,” said Whitehair.
With the information, “It puts us in a lot better position than we have been in the past on whether its natural disasters — flooding for instance. We need this data now and this data can be used for future uses as well.”