The initial results for the Riley County portion of the Regional Business Confidence Survey, which was conducted by the Flint Hills Regional Council in part as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are now available.
About 59 percent of the 39 Riley County businesses that responded saw a decrease in revenue while the remainder reported normal or increased revenue.
According to Marissa Jones-Flaget, Flint Hills Regional Council recovery and resiliency planner and grant specialist, the remainder of the survey was a bit of a mixed bag.
“81 percent felt that they had the resources to bring employees back (safely),” Flaget-Jones said during a Manhattan Area Recovery Task Force meeting on Thursday. “That’s a little bit better than the region as a whole, but again, customer traffic and losing business were the top two concerns for businesses.”
Other concerns included the resiliency of the local economy and adapting to remote work and/or technology requirements.
The survey also included results for Pottawatomie County businesses.
Of the 27 businesses that responded, about half reported an overall decrease in revenue.

Jones-Flaget says many of these businesses reported that “their target market is avoiding going out.”

“If you can’t get people into your stores regardless of what you are doing, that’s not good,” Jones-Flaget said. “And so that’s where we hope to do a consumer confidence survey in the near future, so that we can figure out what do the target markets need to actually go out and frequent our businesses if our businesses are doing what they can to get folks in there.”
She says some businesses indicated having issues with safety and job vacancies.
“A little over a quarter, so on trend with the region, were unsure or felt that they didn’t have the resources and information to bring their employees back to work safely,” Flaget-Jones said. “Lack of qualified and available talent is one of their biggest roadblocks to filling any vacancies.”
Among the top concerns for businesses were customer traffic, losing businesses, adapting to public health guidelines, employee absence and adapting to remote work.
Flaget-Jones says that, going forward, they will attempt to connect businesses with resources that help in certain areas, such as social media, marketing and leadership training. She also reiterates the consumer confidence survey as a way of trying to get customers back into businesses again.
The Regional Business Confidence Survey was made available to businesses within the Flint Hills Economic Development District, which includes Chase, Geary, Lyon, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley and Wabaunsee counties.

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