Most small Georgia companies hurt, but expect to recover, survey shows

A survey of Georgia's small businesses show that nearly all of them have felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but a low percentage feel the damage will be deep, longstanding and traumatic.

Call them optimistic.

Of the Georgia companies surveyed, just 15% said they have enough cash to survive for three months or more, but 62.4% expect operations to return to normal within six months.

The questionnaire was sent to more than 100,000 companies across the country by the Census Bureau. Georgia's results were similar to national trends.

Many economists and other experts fear that the pandemic will kill thousands of low-margin and debt-saddled businesses.

"I think there's going to be a shifting of the deck," said Leslie Kuban, an Atlanta-based franchising consultant. "Most businesses don't have a rainy day fund."

Few of those surveyed think they’ll be among the victims: Just a tiny slice — 4.3% — believe that their business will never get back to pre-pandemic levels.

The survey was conducted at the end of April and first week in May, the period when Gov. Brian Kemp was lifting many restrictions on companies and a stay-at-home order.

Slightly more than half of the Georgia companies – 51.5% – told the Census Bureau that the coronavirus and the shutdowns aimed at slowing its spread had a large impact on their business. A moderate impact was reported by 41.1%.

Nearly 42% said they had closed because of the pandemic. Only 10.6% of companies missed loan payments, while 25% said they had missed some other payments.

Three of every four companies saw revenues decrease, but just one in four cut workers.

Of Georgia companies surveyed, 79% said they had applied for loans through the Payment Protection Program, created in March to soften the pandemic blow. But just 35% said they'd received money from that program.