ChamberSOUTH adds virtual programming to aid members
During a time of uncertainty and confusion among small business owners, ChamberSOUTH wants the community to know that it’s still open for business.
To better serve its members and neighbors, the chamber has added more virtual programming like chamber chats with members, virtual town hall meetings and simply providing accurate information and resources.
“There are a lot of challenges and uncertainty, feeling alone or not knowing what to do. We are available to answer any questions and step up our commitment not only to our members, but also the local community,” said Brittnie Bassant, ChamberSOUTH president and executive director. “It’s very important we keep listening to our members and catering to their needs because this economic impact is going to linger for a long time. We are going to adapt and stay relevant.”
Increasingly, small businesses are asking for information and assistance on the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the CARES Act, Ms. Bassant said.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loans, with $10 billion available loan funds, are administered and approved by the US Small Business Administration. The Paycheck Protection Program has $349 billion available backed by the Small Business Administration through local lenders. Small businesses and non-profit organizations, sole proprietors, independent contractors and even freelance or self-employed workers are eligible for these funds.
“We are breaking down all the options available from these loans and encouraging all of our small businesses to apply for all of the economical relief applications that are available for them, which take less than an hour.” Ms. Bassant said. “The worst that can happen is getting a ‘no’ response.”
At this time, ChamberSOUTH won’t be sending annual renewal notices and charges. “Our big community partners are the ones that are helping us financially during these challenging times and enabling us to keep helping our more vulnerable businesses,” she said. “Some people are desperate for guidance, resources and sense of community … someone who has their backs. We are going to be there for them.”
Dailen Rodriguez, the chamber’s chair-elect, said every business has been affected tremendously, but some are continuing to operate by pushing shopping online. “This is where it’s critical for the chamber to step in and collect the resources and information from businesses and provide it back to people who seek it,” she said.
Ms. Rodriguez said there several special ways to support small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, like buying gift cards and giving them as gifts to people who might not normally go there; keeping membership subscriptions going for gyms, dance, paint or music lessons; and buying manufacturing products and setting them aside to pick up in the future.
“Just by doing these small simple things will help support small businesses to keep its doors open and help pay its bills,” she said. “This is the time we need to stick together and be the engine of our community … making sure that we are going to come out of this.”