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Businesses Say Lack of Customers, Supply Chain Shortages, Employees Among Biggest Concerns in Crisis

Chris Bolt/WAER News

Central New York businesses are finding more challenges the longer the corona virus shutdown continues.  But some are finding help and even looking toward the future.   

Centerstate C-E-O Thursday released results of a business survey.  Among his members, President Rob Simpson, not surprisingly, found the lack of customers the among the biggest concerns.

“Customers are limited in their ability to get out and shop and spend, limited to online shopping and grocery stores.  And (busiensses wonder), at what point will consumers be willing to return to their usual spending patterns?  Not only when will they return, but what (will be) their financial ability to spend in ways in which they were before this crisis occurred?”

Supply-chain issues are also a growing concern as the crisis goes on.  That might be parts to manufacture something or inventory to sell if there’s a customer.  Centerstate found three-out-of-four respondents are seeking help from the Federal Stimulus Program.  Simpson says that caused some to postpone layoffs and keep people on payroll. 


  • 10% are looking to hire employees to meet new demand.
  • 1 out of 5 manufacturers reported an increase in demand, requiring hiring.
  • 35% of businesses are offering discounted sales as a response.
  • 55% of business have experienced a decrease in demand resulting in layoffs, decreased operation hours, shifts, or work days.
  • 34% of businesses now say that supply chain impacts are high or of the highest Impact. Up from 15% on March 23.
  • Cash flow concerns increase over the mid-term.

Credit Centerstate CEO / Phase 1 COVID-19 Business Impact Survey
Phase 1 COVID-19 Business Impact Survey
Sales and Revenues jump to top of list of concnerns as they forecast 2-to-6 months out.

He adds business owners are increasingly realizing this is not a short-term downturn. 

“Even as things start to reopen, it’s not going to happen all at once.  It may happen slowly and may happen over several months, and may take longer than that.  So, I think that smart businesses are thinking not just about how they can survive this crisis, but about how they can rebuild their business to be resilient to this crisis and other crises like it in the future.” 

A few local firms are actually hiring … and Centerstate has been able to play the role of matchmaker.

“I was just on the phone last week with a technology company here in ton that has five open positions looking for software developers.  And we happen to know a number of companies that have put software developers on furlough recently and so those are relatively easy connections to make.  And now (the business) has applicants for open positions.  So, it’s worked both in sort of a mass-market standpoint, as well as on a one-on-one basis.”


Simpson says once the recession eases, he’ll be looking at the kinds of government investments that can boost the economy and employment.  He even suggests supply chain and transportation problems that have come to light, might become an opportunity to bring more manufacturing here.  The City of Syracuse's Smart City investments could also position the city well for what emerges as a new, and changed economy.

(Access Phase-2 of Business Survey here)

Credit Centerstate CEO
A second-phase of the business impact survey is now underway.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.