Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Destination Madison, Downtown Madison, Inc., Madison Black Chamber of Commerce, Latino Chamber of Commerce: Release Fall Business Survey Results

MADISON – Today the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce; Destination Madison; Downtown Madison, Inc.; Madison Black Chamber of Commerce and Latino Chamber of Commerce released the results of a Fall 2020 Business Survey, which yielded responses from 503 Greater Madison businesses representing a diverse, mostly small or locally owned, cross-section of industries, as well as a significant percentage of women- and minority-owned businesses. The survey was conducted in partnership with the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of Commerce, Fitchburg Chamber Visitor + Business Bureau and Middleton Chamber of Commerce.

Among the survey’s key findings are:

  • 66 percent rated consumer and employee confidence as their most pressing need, with many citing inconsistent and fearful messaging about the safety of workplaces;
  • 78 percent have experienced a decline in revenue, with 30 percent losing more than half their revenue;
  • While businesses have insulated their employees, 53 percent have still experienced a reduction in employee benefits or workforce;
  • Three percent of businesses have already closed, with an additional one percent potentially closing in the next month and another 30 percent expecting to close by June 2021, if existing government regulations are unchanged;
  • 91 percent have reduced spending locally;
  • 57 percent are utilizing at least some remote work, up from 28 percent pre-pandemic;
  • 13 percent rate Dane County’s business climate as above average or excellent, compared to 81 percent pre-pandemic; and
  • 25 percent rate local elected officials’ performance during the pandemic as above average or excellent.

“The results of this survey – featuring strong, cohesive data collected from local, highly impacted and diverse businesses – confirm the urgency of the situation for the many businesses that make up the fabric of Greater Madison,” said Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon. “We have said all along that we must find an equilibrium among economic needs, health concerns and instilling public confidence. Doing so will require a true partnership between the public and private sectors to reverse these troubling trends and put us on a path to an accelerated economic recovery.”

“As the pandemic continues, it is critical for us to have hard data to determine the impact these last months have had on our partners,” said Deb Archer, President and CEO of Destination Madison. “Their responses shed light on what businesses have experienced and help public officials and our organizations design a course of action as we strive to support local businesses and their workers.”

“Our members strongly believe it is important to protect our community, but they need consistent messaging that highlights their efforts to keep employees and customers safe in order to keep their doors open,” Madison Black Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Camille Carter. “During such a difficult time, we all need to work together and send a clear signal to businesses that they are not alone and they are valued.”

“Many of our businesses are struggling not only because of the pandemic more generally but also because of language-based barriers to accessing necessary resources,” said Latino Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jessica Cavazos. “While we have worked hard to adapt to the challenges we have faced over the past several months, additional support is needed for our community to come back strong.”

“The survey clearly shows the existential issues many local businesses are struggling with right now.  Without innovative solutions to ensure our communities health and economic well-being, many businesses and their employees will not be able to survive the winter,” said Jason Ilstrup, President of Downtown Madison, Inc. “Now is the time for our whole community to work together and think creatively to keep everyone safe and every business open.”

Among the 503 survey respondents, 79 percent have 50 or fewer employees, 86 percent are headquartered in Dane County, 68 percent have locations only in Dane County, 40 percent are women-owned or -led and 20 percent are owned or led by an individual who is non-white.

This survey was a follow-up to a March 2020 survey that collected information on regional employer response strategies at the outset of the pandemic and was critical to early advocacy with elected and public officials at all levels of government. The results of the Fall 2020 survey will be used to inform policymakers about current business challenges and the need for a predictable and effective path forward balancing the needs of health, the economy and public confidence.

Topline survey results are available upon request by emailing Erik Greenfield at [email protected].

About the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: 
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business with more than 1,200 organizations – ranging from one-person shops to corporations with more than 10,000 employees – working to bring the Greater Madison area to its full potential. The Greater Madison region is a leader in innovation. From cutting-edge technologies to distinctive retail shops to inventive services and products, our members vary greatly but are united by the region’s entrepreneurial spirit. More information can be found at madisonbiz.com.  

About Destination Madison:

Destination Madison is honored to play a key role in supporting the thousands of Dane County jobs supported by tourism. Promoting tourism in Madison since 1972, Destination Madison continues to work strategically to expand upon the more than $1.4 billion generated by visitor spending in Dane Country in 2019. For the most up-to-date information, visit our website at visitmadison.com.

About the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce:

The Madison Black Chamber of Commerce is a group of community members working to empower African American/Black people to cultivate and expand entrepreneurship. We believe that Black-owned businesses contribute significantly to the economic well-being of Madison. Learn more at madisonblackchamber.com.

About the Latino Chamber of Commerce:

Founded in 2003, the Latino Chamber of Commerce represents the Latino and non-Latino business community in the Greater Madison area and surrounding cities. We assist and promote the interests of our members and community through advocacy and programs that make an overall impact to Dane County’s economic growth. The diverse relationship of our active members and partners is an ideal mixture of small business owners, corporate representatives and government leaders. Learn more at lccwi.org.

About Downtown Madison, Inc.:

Downtown Madison, Inc. (DMI) is committed to sustaining, planning for, and growing downtown Madison as a vibrant regional economic engine that offers a best-in-class quality of life for businesses, downtown workers, residents and visitors. Learn more at downtownmadison.org.