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Weathering the Storms

My brother lives in Florida and recently visited. He couldn’t leave fast enough. Somehow he managed to get in and out of Logan airport between the first two blizzards we had at the end of January. We love to talk and joke about the weather in New England, but this winter it has been no laughing matter for many homeowners and business owners.

The impacts of the weather have been well documented regarding the service of the MBTA, commuter rail and parking in Boston. At the Chamber’s Board of Director’s meeting last week we discussed some of the local impacts and thought it would be interesting to survey our members to see how they fared. The results were interesting and generally in line with our assumptions.

85% of the respondents businesses were negatively impacted by the recent weather. Just 3 businesses reported a positive impact. Regarding the degree of impact on business, most responses were that business was down between 20% and 40%. Just over one-third of the respondents suffered physical damage to their facility. Those that did, not surprisingly, reported frozen pipes, water leaks and ice dams. 82% of the respondents had to close their businesses for at least one day, with more than half closing for 2 or 3 days. Two-thirds of those responding allow at least some of their staff to work from home. Responses regarding the snow removal efforts in the region were overwhelmingly positive. 75% rated local snow removal as good or excellent.

Many businesses took a double hit of losing revenue due to losing days, while still having to pay employees and incurring additional costs for snow removal and property damage.

Governor Baker has also circulated a survey to business owners and chambers of commerce. He is trying to get a sense of the overall economic impact of storms. This will be important information when appealing to the federal government for state of emergency funding. It was also interesting to hear him talk about the impacts of the weather on local businesses. I hope that is an indication of his administration’s willingness to work closely with the business community.

Hopefully the worst of this memorable winter is behind us. Although we still have to deal with the melting snow and the whole other set of challenges that will bring. I think it’s time to go visit my brother.