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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

WSU survey finds Pacific Northwest business leaders remain optimistic despite coronavirus-related challenges

Washington State University’s Carson College of Business released a study in August indicating that Pacific Northwest business leaders remain optimistic despite coronavirus-related challenges.  (Associated Press)

Although Pacific Northwest business leaders have experienced hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic, they remain optimistic about the region’s business climate, according to a survey by Washington State University’s Carson College of Business.

WSU’s “2020 Business in the Northwest Special Report: COVID-19,” which surveyed more than 300 business leaders in Washington, Oregon and Idaho in June, provides insight on how business leaders were navigating the pandemic and planning for the future at that time.

About 64% of business leaders surveyed reported the pandemic had a negative impact on their companies. One in 10 businesses closed permanently, while nearly 25% closed temporarily in the Pacific Northwest, Chip Hunter, dean of the Carson College of Business, said Tuesday at a Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Zoom event.

“Almost every respondent reported being affected by COVID-19, but we also saw resilience, and that is a real theme that runs throughout the survey,” Hunter said.

Despite coronavirus-related challenges, business leaders in various industries were optimistic they will weather the storm, with 88% feeling confident in their personal ability to keep their companies afloat, according to the survey.

A majority of business leaders adapted to the pandemic by refining products and services, Hunter said.

About 87% of businesses updated their delivery services and 89% created online retail options, resulting in an “amazing transformation in a short period of time,” Hunter said.

Teleworking will be the future for many Pacific Northwest businesses, with more than half reporting they will continue to allow employees to work from home when the pandemic is over, Hunter said. Many businesses may also re-evaluate the design of their offices in the future.

More than 95% of businesses felt an increased sense of responsibility to support their employees during the pandemic, according to the survey.

Business leaders are planning to meet the needs of employees by continuing to provide new work equipment, additional training, mental health resources, additional parental resources, well-being seminars and flexible work hours, the survey said.