The final report of a group formed to help businesses survive the building of the Green Line found that a majority of them have lost customers, sales and profits since construction began in 2011.
However, nearly 80 percent of those businesses also believe that they will be operating in the same place in 2020 and that they will grow in the next five years, according to the report.
Those findings are based on a survey conducted by the Business Resources Collaborative (BRC), a coalition of business groups, nonprofit developers and local governments formed in 2008 to offer financial and marketing help to businesses near the 11-mile light-rail line, which runs from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis.
Wilder Research worked with the BRC to survey 204 of the 432 businesses eligible for BRC programs during construction. About 550 small businesses along the Green Line qualified for loans.
Of those that responded, more than 70 percent said they suffered most from blocked sidewalks, street closures lasting more than a month and lost on-street parking. The biggest impacts on their businesses, they said, came from reduced car traffic as well as construction noise and dust.
Most businesses that reported parking issues relied on street-only parking; 60 percent of the businesses that used off-street parking said that it was adequate. Still, half of all businesses said they still don't have enough parking.
Service businesses reported somewhat fewer disruptions than shops that sold products, the survey found.
More than 80 percent of the businesses surveyed got help through mitigation programs, including forgivable loans for sales and parking losses, marketing and promotional campaigns, and business planning services. However, at least half of the businesses that invested in their own signs, promotions and advertising said the results weren't justified.
Nevertheless, more businesses opened than closed along the light-rail line while it was being built. The Metropolitan Council said that as of June 2014, when the line opened, 134 businesses had opened and 121 had closed or moved away.
Larger businesses are more optimistic than smaller ones about growth in the next five years, the survey found. But even most smaller businesses expect to see more customers and higher wages and profits in the years ahead.