RALEIGH — Wake County Economic Development wants to know how businesses are coping during this pandemic.

In partnership with Raleigh Chamber and Innovate Raleigh, it has launched two surveys to gauge how local companies are adapting to these unprecedented times, and sudden economic downturn.

The first is a business impact survey, which asks directly what are the impacts on hiring, finance, and short-term company decision making.

The second, a regional skills analysis, is part of a larger effort to understand the employee skills that businesses need now and in the future. It had been planned before the outbreak, and is being administered by other regions in North Carolina.

“Surveys are the most reliable ways to collect real-time data,” Innovate Raleigh’s executive director Bridget Harrington said.

“Most economic data sources are extremely lagged, and if they are more recent, they tend to rely on projections of past data trends.”

Innovate Raleigh’s executive director Bridget Harrington. Copyright Capitol Cities. ARR

However, much has changed since the onset of the pandemic.

According to Startup Genome, a San Francisco-based innovation policy advisory and research firm, four out of every 10 startups globally are in what it calls the “red zone” — they have three months or fewer of cash runway.

For startups that have raised Series A or later rounds, 34 percent have less than 6 months worth of cash — a danger zone in the current situation where fundraising is difficult, the report noted.

Harrington, however, is looking to get a more regional view on the ground: “Businesses are faced with new and different opportunities and challenges, and our community needs data to build the economic and workforce infrastructure to move us toward a recovery.”

She said data collected from the surveys would be used to inform the development of policies, initiatives, and programs to support the regional economy throughout the pandemic, and into the recovery phase.

Despite challenges, she remains optimistic.

“As we think about the next six months to a year, there is still a lot of unknown for both small and large businesses. I was encouraged to see a report from Moody’s Analytics that examined the top 10 cities positioned to recover from the Coronavirus and Raleigh and Durham made the list. The fundamentals of the market were strong prior to the pandemic and we expect that over time, our economy and way of life will recover.”

Talent crunch: Wake County surveys businesses to find out needs for tomorrow’s jobs