• Business Support During COVID-19

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    Dear Chamber Members,
    I am not sure that anyone could have predicted the events of the last two weeks and yet, here we are. If your inbox looks anything like mine, you have no doubt been inundated with emails about COVID-19 over the course of the last week. Therefore, I will not spend much time talking about the virus, but instead I would like to talk about how we carry on in a time when uncertainty seems to be the only thing of which we can be certain.
    As we have worked to stay on top of the constantly changing updates and best recommended practices, we have had to make some hard decisions this week. We regret to announce that we will be cancelling our Chamber Spring Banquet for 2020, and we will be postponing our upcoming mixer.  In addition, we will be monitoring and adjusting our event calendar and Eastman Immigrant Services operations as required over the next couple of months to adapt with the evolving situation. Though unfortunate, these are the steps that must be taken to ensure that we are doing our part to reduce the risk to our community.
    If I were to stop here with our list of cancellations, you may wonder how this would constitute “carrying on.” However, once we have taken our best action to proactively support the safety of our community, we must take the next step and acknowledge that our economy needs to keep functioning.  Commerce and trade need to continue for the simple reason that our livelihood depends on it.  
    Insofar as we are able, we need to keep our people working, though the way in which they work may need to look different. Where possible, we need to keep our businesses running, though the way in which we conduct our business may need to adapt. In reflecting on the current state of affairs, I am encouraged by several things…
    1. We are a community of entrepreneurs.  This means we have the mindset to generate innovative and creative solutions to difficult challenges.
    2. We live in a community that has many great leaders.  This means we are equipped with people who can help us navigate an uncertain path.
    3. We are a community that is recognized nationally for its generosity and altruism. This means dedication to the greater good is part of our DNA. I believe we have a community that will come together and pull through.
    Though we are faced with a pandemic that is causing disruption on a global scale, I also believe that now is the time where thinking local is more important than ever before. Thinking local is what is in our power to influence. What does thinking local look like when we are seeing closures and restrictions being advised for businesses, schools, and gatherings? I will suggest that it begins with small wins, and these are the things that we can all contribute too.  We may need to explore alternate ways to hold meetings instead of cancelling them.  We may need to be creative in providing remote work options for parents who now have children at home.  We may need to continue supporting our local restaurants by ordering out, so that they can stay in a position to still be there when it is once again advisable to congregate socially in public.  We may also do well to remind ourselves that the needs that our amazing charities and non-profits work so hard to meet are still there, and in fact, that their ability to continue their work is still critically important in most cases.  Or perhaps, we simply need to encourage the cashier at the grocery store who has been dealing with long lines and stressed customers for the past week.
    Whatever the situation may be, there is something valuable that we may each contribute to aid in sustaining our community in what may be a challenging period of time. As Chamber Board and staff, we are choosing to look for opportunities:  opportunities to adapt how we provide services; opportunities to engage members and clients in new ways, and opportunities to learn and reevaluate our current practices.
    We would love to be a part of your journey as well. If you are adapting by trying something new, we would love to learn from you. If you have questions or need resources on COVID-19, virtual meeting options, change management, etc., we would love to find the answers with you or connect you with someone who has them. We would welcome the privilege of supporting you and your business because your success is important to us.
    In short, the reality of the situation is that we are in this together. Let’s increase our chances for success by also choosing to work together and support each other.  
    If you want to partner in navigating this ever-changing landscape, we are here.
    Stay safe. Stay healthy.  Carry on.
    All the best,   

    Wayne Patram
    Steinbach Chamber of Commerce
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