CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — On April 15, the West Virginia Development Office, West Virginia Association of Regional Councils (WVARC), New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and West Virginia Chamber of Commerce announced a partnership to measure the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s businesses.
The goal is to compile data that will help maximize future stimulus funds for West Virginia and direct resources to areas most in need. The poll will also help the public locate restaurants, pharmacies and other businesses that are still providing services during the closures.
The organizations will survey businesses on the impact of closures and reductions throughout the state, as well as businesses that have remained open through the crisis. The assembled information will clarify the recovery needs of each region of the state.
“Our job at the West Virginia Development Office is to provide our communities the best opportunity to be successful,” said Executive Director Mike Graney. “This information will allow the State to be in position to attract and receive much needed stimulus funding to better our communities.”
As part of the partnership effort, WVARC will work with the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and local Chambers to use a combination of polling efforts and Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping to quantify the impact COVID-19 has had on the various regions of the state. The Regional Councils will analyze the data to develop an accurate picture of the economic impact. The results will be released to the public and used to maximize relief efforts.
“Obviously, the impact that COVID-19 has had on West Virginia to date is enormous,” said Shane Whitehair, president of WVARC. “However, we don’t really have detailed data regarding the jobs lost, and corresponding business closings, beyond the sheer number of unemployment claims filed in recent days. We think that the best way we can help West Virginians in this time of need is to utilize our resources in a manner that positions the state well for future economic recovery.”
“West Virginia citizens and businesses alike are hurting right now,” said Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “As the U.S. Congress considers further stimulus and relief efforts, we felt one of the best things we could do to help all West Virginians alike is to put the state in the best position possible to receive such recovery funds.”
Over the coming days, the WV ARC, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and West Virginia Development Office will begin surveying businesses to obtain detailed data on the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19 in the state. The Regional Councils will compile the data through GIS software in order to organize and understand the full economic impact in the various parts of West Virginia. Once completed, the groups will release the information with the aim of informing the public of available services and directing any potential future stimulus and relief funds to those areas of greatest need.
To learn more about this effort, please contact Shane Whitehair, President of WV ARC, at SWhitehair@regionvii.com for additional information.