Yesterday afternoon, from a terrace overlooking Avenue de Josep Tarradellas in Barcelona, Alexian Chiavegato spotted helicopters overhead and heard ambulances rushing to the city center. He soon learned that a van had mowed into dozens of people on the nearby Las Ramblas avenue.

"It's still a shock moment," says Chiavegato, the vice president of marketing at Spanish ad tech firm Marfeel, speaking by phone on Friday. Although none of Marfeel's 86 staffers were injured during the incident, "as a business today, everybody's impacted," he tells Inc. "It's a psychological impact, rather than a physical one."

Across Barcelona, thousands are reeling in the aftermath of terrorist attacks that have left at least 14 dead and dozens more wounded. Following the first incident, which occurred just 10 minutes from Marfeel's headquarters, a second group of attackers drove into pedestrians in the seaside town of Cambrils.

Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has since called the attacks a result of "jihadi terrorism." "Today, the fight against terrorism is the principle priority for free and open societies like ours," Rajoy told reporters late Thursday. "It is a global threat and the response has to be global," he added.

The events drew swift reactions from world business leaders, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In an email to staffers later published on Twitter, Pichai denounced extremist violence: "Specific to Barcelona, our security team has helped several Googlers on the ground get to safety, and everyone we've heard from so far is safe," the executive said, noting that the company has activated an SOS alert for those in the city, with news, a map, and local updates from the police. "Terrorism is terrorism and it takes many forms," he continued. "Terrorism is designed to divide us. The challenge and best response is to speak out, to give hatred no place to fester, and to unite around the values we share."

Meanwhile, some Spanish businesses offered staffers the ability to work from home on Friday, though leaders tell Inc. that they showed up to the office anyway. "People came and stood up for Barcelona, stood up for the victims, stood up for us," Marfeel's Chiavegato says, adding that the executive team took several employees to lunch on Friday to talk them through the trauma. "It's still very emotional," he adds.

Other companies are making financial sacrifices to help those affected by the attacks. Cabify, the on-demand ride hailing service based in Madrid, offered free rides to passengers in Barcelona throughout Thursday. "If you're in Barcelona and you need to move, Cabify will be free today using the promotional code UNIDOS1708," the company tweeted.

That's not to say that businesses aren't feeling the economic impact. Marfeel, which brought in around €10 million in revenue last year ($11.8 million USD) from publishing clients around the world--and made the Inc. 5000 EU list at No. 283 this year--doesn't anticipate that the events of this week will have a lasting impact on sales. However, Chiavegato notes that operations were slower than usual on Friday, in terms of employee productivity: "We are not at 100 percent," he says.

But he feels optimistic after seeing the strength displayed by staffers and by the city at large. "We are not frightened by the future," he says. "Barcelona is very strong, and getting stronger."

Published on: Aug 18, 2017