Students study pandemic influence on small businesses


Max Bertrand

The group will be presenting on April 21 at the Research and Creativity Symposium.

by Max Bertrand, Staff Reporter

It’s no secret that businesses across the globe have struggled with the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but often left out of the equation are small midwestern businesses.

Associate Professor of Accounting, Shane Cox gathered two students to explore the prolonged economic effects of COVID-19 on two small Iowan businesses. 

Cox gathered students Katie Oosterhuis, a sophomore majoring in accounting with a minor in data analytics and Trent Pelzer, a sophomore majoring in accounting and management, to explore the East Village’s small businesses to see firsthand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The research was conducted through SUSI or Simpson Urban Studies Institution. The grant is geared towards research in the Des Moines Metro Area. Cox found it sad that several businesses’ stories were not being told. Because things are beginning to get back to normal, Cox said he believes that now is the time to share those stories. 

“Their stories weren’t being told, you know, things are getting back to normal, so I thought it’d be great to really kind of get their story or do some research related to the East Village or downtown, the Metro in general,” Cox said.

The initial focus of the project was extremely broad, leading the group to have to narrow their subject. Should they tell the stories of the small businesses or focus on the effectiveness of government programs? They concentrate on the most measurable factor, which is government assistance. Was government assistance effective in helping small businesses stay open? 

Part of the research was done through surveys and interviews. The surveys assessed matters regarding how easy the application process is when applying for grants, the application process and the process of receiving funding. 

The analysis process was looking over applications, if assistance was distributed fairly and if the local/state government was effective in providing information about aid for small businesses. 

Pelzer was highly thankful that Cox reached out to him and his experience conducting the research. 

Pelzer described the research as sending letters to businesses on which they would like to conduct the study. The goal was to get a sizable portion of data. The two businesses involved in the research were Quinton’s Bar and Grill and RAYGUN. 

“So it’s kind of interesting to hear about how their [Quinton’s Bar and Grill]  Des Moines operation was not as successful as their Iowa City one because with the big university, the University of Iowa there, they didn’t really face any problems because college students didn’t really care about COVID as much,” Pelzer said. 

The group will be presenting their research during the Research and Creativity Symposium on April 21.