What will businesses need next? Survey aims to gauge Williamson County business needs after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted

Mi Mundo Coffeehouse & Roastery, which opened in downtown Round Rock in February, has turned to curbside services amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mi Mundo Coffeehouse & Roastery, which opened in downtown Round Rock in February, has turned to curbside services amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mi Mundo Coffeehouse & Roastery, which opened in downtown Round Rock in February, has turned to curbside services amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
tbuchanan@communityimpact.com
With gyms, bars and dine-in portions of restaurants shuttered for weeks, business owners in Central Texas have had to dramatically shift operations or temporarily close in response to COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

However, Gov. Greg Abbott announced April 17 a plan to gradually ease coronavirus-related restrictions. Looking toward the future, questions remain, including: What is next for the local business community?

“We don’t know how coming back to business is going to look,” said Jason Ball, the Round Rock Chamber's president and CEO. “We are very cognizant that there are concerns and fears about what that transition might look like.”

In an effort to gauge questions about the road ahead, leaders from across Williamson County are seeking business owners’ perspectives through an online survey that launched April 17.

“We want to have a better understanding of what potential challenges businesses will have once they are cleared to return to work,” said Jim Johnson, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO. “And we want to know how we can properly communicate those concerns and challenges to our elected officials.”


The information-gathering effort is a collaborative one involving area city governments, such as Cedar Park and Round Rock; chambers of commerce, including for Cedar Park, Georgetown, Hutto and Round Rock; Williamson County; the Leander Economic Development Group; and Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area.

“The point of this survey is that we are doing this collectively throughout the county,” Johnson said. “The decisions that are being made right now are at the county and state level. By working together, we can provide better information back to the county and state.”

The 37-question survey is expected to take 10 minutes or less to complete, Ball said. The survey is open to any business that has an operation in Williamson County.

“We are interested to see some of the real-time feedback on what business needs currently are and what they think they are going to be,” said Tony Moline, the Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO. “Over the last several weeks, it’s been daily and weekly changes to their business models. We want to know what they need to get back up and operational as quickly as possible.”

The group is aiming for a “meaningful sample set” of somewhere between 300-500 responses, Ball said, from businesses across the county that represent a diversity of sizes and industries.

“A lot of this was developed with the small restaurants, bars and local hair salons in mind, but there are perspectives we’ll need from larger businesses and industries as well,” Ball said. “They may have been able to continue operations working remotely, but as they try to spin back to normal times, they might have some unique considerations as well.”

Johnson said he hopes the data collected will create a clear picture about shared concerns across Williamson County to help the entire business community get back up to speed as restrictions lift.

“As we’ve seen with COVID-19, the virus knows no boundaries,” Moline said. “This survey is not just about Cedar Park or Georgetown or Round Rock alone; it’s about making sure we’re all doing our part to make sure that all businesses in our area are doing well.”

Business owners can respond to the survey here.
By Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Buchanan joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 after completing a master of journalism degree from the University of Texas. She worked as the senior reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition and is now the editor for the company's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition.


MOST RECENT

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know today in Williamson County. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Williamson County reports 214 new coronavirus cases, 1 death Dec. 1

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know today in Williamson County.

Graphic of a coronavirus unit
COVID-19 rates after Thanksgiving have yet to climb, but experts say spike could still be coming

As Austin awaits a vaccine whose first doses could arrive by the end of 2020, health officials say the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings on the spread of the virus could take time to show up.

The primary focus of the plan is to help make city services, facilities, programs and activities more accessible to all residents. (Screenshot courtesy city of Pflugerville)
As Pflugerville prepares plan to improve accessibility, city seeks public input

The primary focus of the plan is to help make city services, facilities, programs and activities more accessible to all residents in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has launched a campaign to address declining college enrollment numbers across the state since the pandemic started. (Courtesy Pexels)
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board launches campaign to boost college enrollment

The decline in college enrollment across the state of Texas has prompted several agencies to partner up and create online resources for students and counselors.

Here is how Williamson County is being impacted by the coronavirus. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Williamson County adds more than 1,000 reported coronavirus cases Nov. 25-30

The county's positivity rate, or rate at which test return postiive, sits at 8.15%, data shows.

The changes come following the Round Rock Transportation Department's annual traffic signal operations, which "assist traffic flow as the city grows and traffic patterns change and evolve." (Courtesy Fotolia)
Round Rock to debut traffic pattern changes on 2 A.W. Grimes intersections in December

The changes come following the Round Rock Transportation Department's annual traffic signal operations, which "assist traffic flow as the city grows and traffic patterns change and evolve."

Daniel Presley's appointment follows the Nov. 13 resignation of Steve Flores, whose last day is Dec. 1. (Community Impact staff)
NEW: Daniel Presley named acting superintendent for Round Rock ISD

Presley's appointment follows the Nov. 13 resignation of Steve Flores, whose last day is Dec. 1.

In a Nov. 13 letter to Pflugerville City Council, the Pflugerville Fire Department said it might have to discontinue emergency ambulance services and advanced life support if additional funding is not made available. (Community Impact Staff)
Pflugerville residents push for EMS services amid new emergency district overlay discussions

"To allow citizens to vote on the current topic is to allow them to have a say in how their tax dollars are spent and how their loved ones are cared for," resident Blake Brown said Nov. 24.

The mayor pro tem acts as mayor when the mayor is absent from a meeting. (Community Impact Staff)
Omar Peña to continue as Pflugerville City Council's mayor pro tem

Omar Peña has served as mayor pro tem since 2015, with the position filled each year as new council members join.

Round Rock City Council approved a resolution for the Oakmont Drive extension. (Courtesy Round Rock City Council and Google Earth)
Gattis School Road, N. Mays Street approved for improvements by Round Rock City Council

City Council approved the enactment of eminent domain to acquire property on Gattis School Road to create the Oakmont Drive extension that will run parallel to the road.

Melissa Neel has 23 years of experience in finance and project management work in public, private and nonprofit sectors, according to a Nov. 24 city news release. (Courtesy city of Pflugerville)
Pflugerville selects Melissa Neel as new finance director

Melissa Neel has 23 years of experience in finance and project management work in public, private and nonprofit sectors, according to a Nov. 24 city news release.

Pflugerville City Council approved on first reading an annexation request for 160 acres of land for uses that include the operations of Republic National Distributing Company, a wines and spirits distributor. (Kelsey Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
160-acre annexation, including future wine distribution site, moves ahead in Pflugerville

Pflugerville City Council approved on first reading an annexation request for 160 acres of land for uses that include the operations of Republic National Distributing Company, a wines and spirits distributor.