The Town of Gravenhurst has put out its sixth annual Business Retention and Expansion Survey. 

“The annual business review six years was really born out of the idea that we needed to get really local data for programs,” explains Manager of Economic Development for the Town of Gravenhurst Jeff Loney. “It was also born out of the idea that the economic development team at the time was really working on a lot of great projects and starting to push things forward.”

He says that 256 businesses were surveyed, which Loney says accounts for about 45-percent of businesses in Gravenhurst.

“There’s some good and some bad,” he says of this year’s results. In the last 12 months, the around 250 businesses that responded reported 303 jobs lost. He says in the first five years of the survey, the local economy has grown by 300. Loney says the good news is that “predominately” it looks like those jobs will return. “As well as the fact that our major growth in jobs in the previous five years were in the full-time positions,” he adds. The major decline according to the survey was in seasonal and part-time work. 

While 20 businesses closed in 2020, Loney points out that 15 opened. He adds that weigh businesses were set to open in 2020 but delayed their plans until 2021. “We’ve started to see some of those businesses start to open,” he says.

“We know of about 55 positions that were lost in 2020 and those businesses have no intention of hiring them back again,” Loney adds. 

He says that 32-percent of businesses saw an increase in revenue in 2020 when compared to 2019. When the pandemic started, Loney says that 72-percent of businesses polled saw a decrease in their revenue.

“There are lots of things that businesses can take and make their adjustments,” Loney says.

Despite the uncertainty of what lays ahead, Loney says the Gravenhurst business community remains positive. “They’re excited about what the future holds,” he says, adding that many believe that 2021 will be a good year for businesses. He says current estimates show that the conservative estimate shows that it will take local businesses three to five years to recover.