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Survey: One in seven local businesses fear closure due to COVID-19

Calhoun businesses

Businesses including Heirloom Taco in Jacksonville, seen here Monday, are changing how they serve customers amid the threat from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce members surveyed this week are worried the pandemic could severely hamper their businesses.

One in every seven members of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce fear the COVID-19 pandemic will put them out of business completely, according to a survey the chamber released Wednesday. 

Chamber officials are quick to point out that the survey is small and informal, but they also said it reflects the mood among business owners right now. 

“I was not surprised when I saw the numbers, but let’s see where we are in a week or 10 days,” said Larry Deason, president of the chamber. 

The chamber earlier this week asked members to rate how the pandemic was affecting their business. Chamber officials say they got about 50 responses to that survey. Half said the crisis had caused them to draw on a line of credit. Most said the crisis would have a “low” or “medium” impact on their business, while 14.6 percent said it could put them out of business entirely.

The survey comes as the stock market continues to fall and some Alabama counties — all in the Birmingham metro area — are under a state order that prohibits large gatherings and requires bars and restaurants to serve only through takeout. Orders of that sort have not been imposed on Calhoun County. The county saw its first confirmed case of COVID-19 Wednesday. 

The results were released about a month after the chamber presented the results of a regular annual survey of its members in which two-thirds of respondents said they expected a better or much better local economy in 2020, after a record-setting 2019. 

Chamber officials were quick to note that the survey was informal and was done largely to meet the chamber’s needs. 

“We’re just trying to figure out the needs of our members,” said Linda Hearn, director of the chamber. 

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.