Knoxville Chamber releases June COVID-19 economic impact report

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce said Friday it had conducted a second economic impact survey throughout the month of June to gauge the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic on Knoxville area businesses’ operations, sales and workforce.

The study also looks at when businesses think things will rebound in the future. The first economic impact study was conducted by the Chamber back in April.

The Chamber said a total of 364 businesses participated in the June survey.

On Friday, the Chamber released some of the key findings of the June survey and how it compares to the first survey conducted back in April.

Of note is the June survey was conducted during the phased reopening of the local economy while the first survey in April was conducted during the economic shutdown.

In the report’s overview, it’s indicated that the phased reopening of the local economy had resulted in more hiring, less employee furloughs, increased consumer demand, less cancellations of orders or services and a slight decrease in the number of businesses reporting decreased sales — when compared to the April survey.

Other factors contributing to businesses’ ability to hire or keep employees, create sales revenue and function during the pandemic includ aid from the federal government via the Paycheck Protection Program – which the report notes helped businesses in the region to survive. More than 13,000 businesses in the region have received PPP funding and more than 142,300 jobs have been retained.

The report concludes the June survey results to be “more encouraging” than the results of April’s survey. However, it said there are still many challenges facing the regional business community.

“Several businesses are struggling to get their furloughed employees to return to work. Other businesses are struggling to get consumers to come through their doors,” the report states. “All businesses are continuing to adapt to an ever-changing new normal. For now, it appears COVID-19 will continue to create uncertainty until the number of positive cases is stemmed and a successful vaccine is developed.”

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