This last week has been exponential. I hope to update you on what has been happening, however the rate of change tied to COVID-19 is hard to keep up with sometimes.
In recent days, the Chamber has been working with all levels of government officials and other supporting entities in two main areas:
- Disseminating information tied to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
- Getting resources in place for the second wave – the economic impact of COVID-19.
The wheels are in motion, thanks to businesses who quickly replied, to get an official (economic) disaster area declaration from Governor Polis. We hope to have this in the coming days to then go to the President. This declaration will ultimately grant access to the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. which provides targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
Other economic moves are happening, and we anticipate more in the coming days and weeks. Our main objectives as a community right now are on public health crisis to:
- slowing the spread in our community,
- limiting the demands on our local health care system,
- protecting those most vulnerable/susceptible to complications.
What you can do right now:
- Social distancing is key – This letter from the Pitkin County Commissioners says it all.
- Support your fellow local businesses in the safest manner possible. Be ready to rally when the time comes.
- Support each other. Physical social distancing should not mean isolation in an emotional sense. Pick up the phone, write a letter, do a video call – for both friends/family and clients. These are stressful times, and it helps to lean on your network, just not in-person.
- Owners/managers – Start tracking any business losses. Read the SBDC Disaster Recovery & Continuity Guide for details (See Page 27 for guidance).
- Owners/managers – Get creative and try a new approach to your business. Take-out, curb-side service, virtual classes, showcasing products online. As a chamber we are working on finding creative ways to showcase our businesses as well.
As our governor has stated, this will get worse before it gets better. I know as a community it is in us to hunker down, help each other, and make it out the other side.
A Personal Anecdote*
These last few days have felt like two different experiences in my life – the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and the subsequent week (and manhunt) that followed and the Lake Christine Fire. Both were very surreal, but in both scenarios I saw the best in my community. And when the future seems so unknown right now, that is what gives me hope.
I have seen communities come together, take care of each other (especially the most vulnerable) in our most challenging circumstances and connect to one another. While the current crisis is unprecedented, we have the social memory of coming together for the collective good during times that are very scary. We rise to the occasion and I have no doubt that we will do that in both the coming days and weeks.
In 2013, I witnessed Boston’s most famous event turn into something that was more of a war zone than a crime scene. The city was scared, shocked and on edge. Days later, there was a multi-city manhunt for the bombers. And during that manhunt, we were asked to shelter in place. Boston and its surround towns shut everything down, impacting 625,000 people. One of the brashest cities out there stopped everything for the collective good. Literally Boston became a ghost town. And while we were at home, we did what you are probably doing right now – following the news and social media for the latest, but we also used this giant PAUSE button as an opportunity to connect with others and check in on each other.
When Boylston Street (site of the two bombs) was finally reopened, we all did our best to visit those businesses as much as possible and to drive revenue. We shopped, we dined out, we said thank you, we were kind to one another. We wouldn’t be defined by this. It made us stronger as a community.
I felt the same thing in 2018 with my new home here in the Roaring Fork Valley during the fire. Neighbors helped one another. We looked out for each other, and when the immediate threat was gone, we were back to our lives as best as possible. We make it through the tough times together, and we did our part by contributing where we could. Today is no different. This is not something we will solve overnight, but I know we are in this together.
There is no playbook for this exact scenario – all we can do is our best. I have faith that we will do that. We will need to take care of each other not just in the days to come, but for much longer.
*Note: by definition, an anecdote is a funny story. This is not funny, but it is personal.