Our weekly update is a bit unique this week. Obviously, we have moved it up a day to get you as much information as possible. The other change is we are focusing this week on the one thing that has literally affected the businesses of this county and the other 3140 counties across America. There is a troubling and cruel duality of the viral outbreak. We are generally hunkered down at home and doing our best to protect each other from its infection. Thus leading to the uncertainty of our businesses and livelihoods. There is a rightful concern about the economic impact. In full transparency, we as a chamber are doing our best to bring you as much information as possible. We realize your email inboxes are flooded with reminders about social-distancing and proper handwashing techniques.
Our goal is to only email you pertinent information in guiding you through the business part of the equation. This email will contain links and information for you to peruse. We know the governor has mandated all essential businesses to be closed for the next two weeks. We can say with great probability this mandate will be extended but we do NOT yet know for how long. One of the most frequently asked questions over the last few days is “what classifies as essential.” In conversations with local leaders and other chamber executives, I am going to offer you our best interpretation of essential.
Does your business offer a vital service that is imperative to the well-being and safety of humankind? This is why the essential businesses outlined in the mandate are grocery stores (food), pharmacies and hospitals. I would include with that utilities (gas, water and electric). I should also point out this is an interpretation on a mandate that was not precise. At this moment, the government can shut down private businesses and we would respectfully ask that everyone heed to proper safety measures.
As for the chamber, our board has advised us (Me and Janet) to work from home until further notice. Like you, I am home with my wife and young children but I am available by phone and email to answer any concerns you may have. As a very limited service, Janet and I will each be in the office for about 90 minutes each day. The goal is take in the mail and help our import/ export members by stamping their Certificates of Origin (COO). We will be keeping our distance, sanitizing and asking for all other members to visit us by appointment only.
As far as the economic impact, each your businesses are different in size and scope. You each need to make the call as far as shutting down completely (if you are not structured as a work from home business). I know that the one source of economic relief at this time is a Small Business Loan. The federal government has lowered the rate to 3.75 for a 30-year loan. It will be roughly 1 point lower if you are a 501C(3) organization. This will cover operations, debt and payroll. The link is here. You can find the link here.
There are discussions of other larger pieces of legislation in the pipeline. If and when these transpire we can share how that could help.
This next piece of information is super important.
Our friends at the Montgomery Commerce Department are collecting data from county businesses. It’s a pretty comprehensive status that captures whether you remain on business and what needs you may have. My hope is to eventually share this information with you in due time but what’s even more important is having this information disseminated to our local, commonwealth and federal leaders as they contemplate financial needs to help OUR businesses.
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