Area firms still reeling from Sept. 11

Nearly 130 local businesses have reported being directly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks, according to updated survey results compiled by the Prince William Department of Economic Development.

Of those, 58 have laid off workers. More than 200 people lost their jobs, but an exact number of lost employees had not been determined, said Mary Elsesser, director of Existing Businesses Program for the department.

The county sent out a survey in October and received responses from 35 companies that suffered financially after Sept. 11. In a follow-up survey conducted in early January, an additional 182 responded, of which 93 were affected by the terrorist attacks and their aftermath.

Seventy-nine of the new respondents said they lost sales revenue and 27 wanted information on loans.

Unlike the initial survey, which received responses from hotels, restaurants and insurance agencies, the follow-up survey shows a wider range of business fields that suffered.

The hospitality industry is still the hardest hit, but service companies like auto repair shops and construction firms reported losses as well. Elsesser said some business owners told her they had contracts canceled or postponed.

“It shows how people responded [to Sept. 11]. They put off getting their car repaired or doing work on their house,” Elsesser said. “The results are more dispersed in terms of trickle-down impact, because people contracted.”

The local company that took the biggest hit, according to survey results, was Colgan Air, which laid off 86 of its 393 employees and lost more than $2 million in ticket sales in the month following the attacks.

The airline was slotted to receive $1.2 million in recovery money from the federal government.

More than 40 businesses have expressed interest in recovery loans, Elsesser said.

The Department of Economic Development is working to inform local business owners about Econo-mic Injury Disaster Loans given by the Small Business Administration and the Virginia Capital Access Pro-gram, which makes it easier for banks to give loans to businesses with higher-risk status.

The department did not have information on how many local business owners have applied for loans.

Staff writer Kate Bissell can be reached at (703) 878-8068.

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