An informal online survey of area businesses found that nearly 40 percent are seeing a decline in business, mostly due to the economy and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Horizon Council, a public-private advisory board that operates as part of the Lee County Office of Economic Development, created the survey to get a general idea of whether the BP oil spill is having an impact on local industries.
According to Jennifer Berg, communications director for the county's Office of Economic Development, it was a "simple, three- or four-question survey."
"The Horizon Council simply wanted to survey the people that we typically survey for our business climate survey. Not as a scientific study, but more as a baseline," she said, adding that the climate survey is done quarterly.
"The oil spill impact survey went out two weeks ago and the results came back last week," Berg said. About 300 local businesses responded to the survey.
According to the survey results, about 54 percent of the respondents did not see a decline in business and about 36 percent reported experiencing a decline, while about 11 percent were uncertain. About 53 percent reported the decline was due to the economy, while about 28 percent said it was due to "BP factors." The remaining 17 percent cited other factors as a cause.
The survey broke down the respondents based on industry as well. About 51 percent in construction and real estate reported no decline in business, while about 40 percent are seeing a drop. In banking and financial services, about 61 percent are not seeing a decline, while about 36 reported that they were.
The businesses that reported seeing the biggest decline were those in the hospitality industry, according to the results. About 65 percent have seen a decline in business and about 32 percent have not.
The respondents that did not fall into the three categories were placed in an "other" group. About 55 percent of them saw no decline in business, while about 32 percent saw one.
Berg said the findings have been passed on to the Lee County Commission.
The Horizon Council was established in 1991 as a board designed to advise the county commissioners and the business community on economic development issues and to promote a positive business spirit in Lee County. It consists of representatives from nearly every government, chamber of commerce, economic development, trade organization and more.
The Horizon Council meets monthly to discuss business issues in a forum with county commissioners and staff. The meetings are open to the public. For more information, call 338-3161 or visit: www.leecountybusiness.com.