2022 Small Business Survey on Economic Recovery

May 4, 2023

Key Survey Findings

Overall, business revenues have shrunk since the onset of COVID-19 and small businesses have fewer employees today than pre-pandemic.

The top three challenges small businesses face currently are an increase in the costs of goods sold, dirty and smelly streets, and lack of customers.

Public safety is an ongoing concern among business owners. One third of businesses surveyed were victims of crime between 2-10 times in the past year.

To address these challenges, the survey includes several recommendations:  

Invest in safer and cleaner streets by implementing foot and bike police patrols and expanding ambassador programs throughout the city.  

  • 77% of businesses indicated that more foot/bike patrols would have a positive impact in addressing public safety issues.  74% of businesses indicated that more community ambassadors to monitor streets would also have a positive impact. 

  • Increase citywide sidewalk cleaning initiatives.  

Eliminate excessive fees and taxes on small businesses, particularly the Healthcare Security Ordinance.  

  • Extend the City’s First Year Free program  

  • A comprehensive review by each department associated with small business fees could identify potential administrative efficiencies to lower or eliminate outdated/rarely used fees.   

Provide small businesses with better information about tax credits, financial aid application assistance, and help with bookkeeping.  

  • Only 16% of businesses reported applying for the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which can provide businesses up to $26,000 per employee whom they kept on staff through COVID-19. Other federal tax credits were also underutilized.  

  • Many businesses noted that they were overwhelmed by financial assistance applications, and faced technical and language barriers.