01STOCK_MONEY2

JANESVILLE

The CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is optimistic about Rock County businesses reopening.

Missy Hughes shared her thoughts and fielded questions from business owners Thursday in a conference call with County Administrator Josh Smith and Dan Cunningham, vice president of government affairs for Forward Janesville.

After Tuesday’s announcement that the county will rescind its safer-at-home order Thursday, many questions focused on keeping businesses solvent.

Hughes said reopening the economy is crucial because, according to some numbers, about 30% of small businesses could close permanently if the situation doesn’t improve.

“The reality is that what we’re seeing reflects that 30% number of businesses saying, ‘If this goes on much longer, we won’t survive.’ So the sum of what I’m hearing is we have to pull out of this as quickly as we can,” Hughes said. “But there is also a concern that … if we have surges, I’m not sure we can survive that either. I think businesses have been as resilient as we can be.”

Smith said guidance will be available for businesses as they reopen. He said the county waited until Thursday to rescind the order to give businesses a few days to prepare.

Hughes urged residents to support local businesses safely.

“I think what’s going to be really critical is, as businesses reopen, if we can think of ourselves as customers of these businesses and ... buy local, that’s all going to be really critical to small businesses and preventing that 30% from becoming a reality.”

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