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Herbein + Co. survey shows surprising post COVID-19 business confidence

While much of the discussion on the economy’s post-pandemic future has been negative, a recent flash poll conducted by Herbein + Co. of Wyomissing shows surprising optimism among business leaders in the Mid-Atlantic.

A poll of more than 450 professionals in a wide range of fields showed that 74% were very or somewhat confident about their businesses in the next six month.

“There’s without question some uncertainty,” said David Stonesifer, managing partner at Herbein. “But they believe in their customers. They believe in their workforce and they believe that they will weather the storm.”

He noted that 16% of respondents said they felt neutral and around 10% said they were less confident their organizations would soon prosper.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how few there were,” Stonesifer said.

There was, however, a connecting factor in the relatively positive group. Of those surveyed, 76% said that they had applied for and received Paycheck Protection Program funding through the CARES Act.

“I think this shows that government stimulus programs were vital to recovery,” he said. “In the absence of this, I believe it would have been a significant struggle.”

He noted that the survey was taken before the second round of PPP was released, but the respondents knew more funds were coming, which likely impacted their positivity. Speaking with his own client base, however, Stonesifer acknowledged that many struggled to get the loans, particularly with larger banks.

“Smaller banks seemed to be more nimble and the success rate was greater,” he said.

Stonesifer said his company has been keeping extremely busy helping clients with funding like PPP and he sees the next big challenge as PPP loan forgiveness.

Companies can apply to have the PPP loan forgiven if they can show that it was used for designated expenses, such as employee salaries over the eight weeks from receiving the loan.

He said while there is “absolute confidence and a reliance on getting loan forgiveness,” among his clients, the Small Business Administration’s guidance on loan forgiveness parameters has been somewhat murky.

But, he noted that the SBA did rush to get the money out to where it is needed so his firm expected some confusion over the rules and expects clarifications will be forthcoming as issues arise, and companies will be seeing the funding as the boost they needed.

Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at swescoe@bridgetowermedia.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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