By DENA KREITLER
STE. GENEVIEVE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
As a chamber director, we face many obstacles each day on how to best promote our local business community.
Throw a pandemic into the mix, and our job takes a completely different turn.
Having been in this position for 20 years, never have I had something of this magnitude knocking at the door. The fear and uncertainty that surrounds every person — whether they own a small business or not — is real. The small businesses and large corporate partners we have are drastically changing their operations to accommodate the guidelines set forth from our local government and healthcare professionals, all in an effort to keep their doors open and their employees working.
Our schools are adjusting to online training, while simultaneously working hard to ensure that all the kids are receiving meals and are in a healthy and safe environment. All the while, still trying to figure out how they can give their graduating classes the proper celebration for their years of hard work.
This is happening to each and every one of us, and we’re uncertain on where to turn. Our nation is in pure panic as to what this virus is and what it can do to all of us. Businesses are closing because they have no other choice at this time. People want and, more importantly, need answers on what their options are and how they should proceed.
I will tell you that as a chamber director, my board of directors and I are working very hard to shed some light through this darkness. We’re evaluating every resource within our toolbox to ensure that we have the right information and material going out to each of you. We know you are struggling to make sense of it all — we get it — because we are going through the same thing. From countless meetings to countless calls to countless e-mail threads that we have been engulfed in, we are doing everything in our power to figure out how this all affects our members, as well as their employees and their individual circumstances.
Simultaneously, we are trying to figure out what solutions are available. In addition to numerous phone calls, video conferences, e-mails and text messages, we have been spending a significant amount of time on the phone with our Ste. Genevieve and Missouri government leaders, as well as chambers of commerce across the state, to come up with the best solutions for our members.
Furthermore, we have been helping our members submit Small Business Administration (SBA) loan applications in order to make sure their doors stay open.
If you have any input on what more we, as the chamber and concerned members of this community, can be doing to alleviate your fears and financial needs during this difficult time, please let us know. We are doing our best to educate ourselves on the programs that the nation is providing and trying to decipher how that impacts our members and our community. For any business looking for guidance, we would encourage you to reach out and we’ll get you directed towards the right program for your respective needs. The information is changing daily, and right now, we are making every effort to interpret that correctly for our members.
We would like to stress that you are not alone. There are resources out there for your needs, so, please do not hesitate to reach out to us and ask. We are posting new information to our website daily, and we advise you to always check there first.
That link is https://www.stegenchamber.org/public-health/.
We are here to help you through this trying time and give you some “direction” to get past the unknown. We are in this together, and we will get through this together.
Stay safe and healthy. Oh, and wash your hands.
[Dena Kreitler is the executive director of the Ste. Genevieve Chamber of Commerce.]
By DENA KREITLER