Monica Bailey of Rock Port, Missouri, sent in this question that I think you can relate to:
Thank you ladies, as always, for supporting small towns! My question is super generic but it is giving me sleepless nights. I am our counties economic/community development director and I’ve been scrambling to support our small businesses during this crisis. What’s the most helpful thing I can be doing for them right now??
This is a great question. While there’s no one right answer, we are hearing lots of suggestions. And we’re making up a few of our own. I’ll have a more complete answer on this later, but right now here are my thoughts, in order of importance by my guesstimate:
1. Get in touch with each and every business.
- How are they doing?
- What have they changed?
- Where do they know they need help right now?
- Who’s hiring?
2. Get the word out.
- Share what businesses and services are available now, what’s different, what’s still the same, what jobs are open.
- Use every channel available to you.
- Enlist others to spread the word.
3. Listen for community projects and activities that you can amplify.
- Share stories of anyone doing anything positive, anything people can join in on safely.
4. Answer as many of the assistance program surveys and questionnaires as possible.
- Get more businesses to, as well.
- The longer this goes on, the more of these will come out. Many of them help determine how much money gets allocated where.
5. For businesses that are closed or downsized, help them transition.
- What’s next for them?
- What’s next for the space they occupied?
6. Play matchmaker.
- Help businesses that are downsizing to combine with one another to share space or share resources, safely.
7. Fill empty spaces with cheerful things to look at.
- Start filling empty business windows with art of any kind.
8. Start preparing for rebuilding.
- Look for the small spaces and the shared spaces that will help the tiny new startups take root.
Bonus: Don’t do any of these alone.
- There’s a whole community of people out there who want to help. Give them small but meaningful ways to participate, spread the word and cheer each other on.
Monica wrote back to say she’s already doing 1, 2 and 4, so I’m sure you’re on the right track too.
What are you trying in your community?
Hit reply or answer in the comments.
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Henry Stevens says
Most businesses in town closed a couple of restaurants using take out only. Doing a lot of on-line and telephone planning of what to do when businesses are allowed to reopen. On-line have sent state resource links to businesses and individuals. We’re a group of volunteers that are self tasked with encouraging visitors to our area. If the businesses don’t survive we will no longer have a reason to exist. I am going to forward your suggestions above to the local chamber of commerce and suggest they make it available to members.
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Henry, for sharing what you’re doing and seeing there. Keep in touch with ideas as you hear them, and we’ll share with everyone. Take care!
Tony Powe says
#8 Start preparing for rebuilding is crucial. Understandably it’s the last thing most individual business owners are thinking about as they just struggle to survive. But community/economic organizations should definitely be actively pursuing this. Here’s a guideline that we put together at WeLocals which might help https://www.wethelocals.com/what-next
Thanks for everything Becky – small biz survival is a great source of inspiration and great advice.
Stay safe everyone.
Becky McCray says
Thanks, Tony. I think we’re all thinking about rebuilding.