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Small Businesses Learn To Cope With Pandemic

Todd J. Tranum, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said many local businesses are dealing with several factors related to the coronavirus pandemic. P-J file photo by Dennis Phillips

Small businesses in the area face low customer volume and being closed until further notice.

In an interview with Todd J. Tranum, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, he addressed some of the biggest concerns he is hearing from businesses during this trying time.

“Businesses are working hard to protect the health of their employees. That has been a top priority,” Tranum said.

Another concern from businesses in the area is adequate cash flow to weather through the situation. “It is imperative that the State and Federal government put grant resources in place for this sector as soon as possible,” Tranum said, noting that loans are helpful for businesses, but many of them are not in a position to take on more debt, especially at a time when future cash flow is unpredictable.

For the manufacturers in the region that are considered essential, per the current state guidelines, they demonstrate the importance of our region’s production capabilities and their importance in the fight against coronavirus, explained Tranum.

There is currently a Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan available for businesses in need at this time. According to Tranum, the Small Business Development Center is taking the lead on the program and is “doing a nice job.” He also mentioned that any businesses interested in the loan should contact the local SBDC.

When asked if these troubled times could be detrimental to some businesses, Tranum seemed confident that they can pull through, with the help of the community. “Our business community is resilient and I have faith that we will make it through this successfully,” he said.

He also explained that the businesses will need the support of the community and he encourages the community to support the ones that remain open and even the closed businesses by purchasing gift cards or through local online stores.

Some other ways the chamber is helping to support businesses in the area is communicating consistently with them and setting up a Facebook group and a website, according to Tranum.

“There are several things we have put in motion including consistent communication through email, a page on our web-site with businesses specific information, a weekly call with our membership, we have set up a Facebook group called CHQ Chamber Business Discussion Group open to all businesses in Chautauqua County, we have set up a page at CHQbuylocal.com to promote restaurants that offer curbside and delivery,” Tranum said.

To support and promote businesses that are essential services, the chamber is launching a social media marketing program for businesses. Tranum said that the chamber has worked with manufacturers to guide them through the essential service designation process and is advocating to make sure that businesses have adequate financial resources from governmental agencies to get through this time.

“We are starting to strategize around how we can support businesses once the restrictions begin to ease,” Tranum said of the future.

Tranum added that Small Business Revolution filming has started, COVID-19 not having a huge effect on the schedule. The season is still scheduled to air mid-September according to Tranum. “The show will go on.”

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