Extreme weather hurting Virginia’s small businesses

Most Virginia small business owners believe that extreme weather events — not just snowstorms — are creating negative impacts on their operations and communities, including lost revenue due to closings, property damage and the need for layoffs.

A poll conducted Feb. 7-10 by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Small Business Majority found four in 10 small businesses have been impacted by extreme weather and experienced damages between $5,000 and $25,000. Nearly one in five Virginia small business owners said it had to lay off workers due to extreme weather, and 59 percent have had to close their business for up to a week, with some closing for as long as 14 to 30 days.

Mike Brey, owner of Hobby Works, which has stores in Fairfax and Maryland, said that Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 created the worst sales month in the company’s history, without being a direct hit on the Washington region. The store only lost one day of business, but the hurricane slowed sales for the prior week and took several days to rebuild momentum afterward.

The findings led to an ambitious wish list on the part of Small Business Majority, a small business advocacy group based in Sausalito, Calif.

“Policymakers should embrace smart clean energy policies that can help mitigate climate change and prompt innovation — which would create opportunities for small businesses, boost the economy and help address some of the economic uncertainty we’re experiencing today — all while addressing this growing problem of extreme weather wrecking havoc on our primary job creators,” Small Business Majority founder and CEO John Arensmeyer said in a release.

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