As a member of the State Chamber of Commerce, Norway Savings Bank received a message from Dana Connors, its President and CEO on March 17. Because every business in Maine is not a chamber member, we wanted to share some of Mr. Connor’s thoughts and ideas on how to support business during this pandemic. The following is an excerpt from his message.
As you are well-aware, the situation related to Coronavirus changes hourly. We are in unprecedented and uncertain times, on the front lines of history perhaps! Mainers come from tough stock and excel at working together in times of crisis. The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Maine’s regional and local chambers of commerce are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. The Chamber is in the process of creating a clearinghouse of information and resources for you on our webpage and plan to use social media and email blasts like this one to make sure you have everything you need as we weather this pandemic together.
Aggressive action to fight the spread of COVID-19 is critical to the health and safety of all Maine people. The chamber of commerce community is working together and with state and local officials, under the leadership of Governor Janet Mills, to also mitigate the impact of the virus on businesses to ensure the health of Maine’s economy. The governor’s office and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to encourage employers to limit non-essential travel and meetings and events. Wherever possible, employees are urged to work remotely. Many Maine businesses are already taking these precautions.
Additionally, many businesses are adapting to new ways to deliver goods and services by offering delivery, curbside, and takeout options, amidst curfews and gathering notices. These local businesses need our support! Many of them do not have the ability to work remotely and currently are making decisions as to how they can continue to serve their customers and clients while prioritizing everyone’s health and safety. Please consider taking some of the following steps to support local businesses and small business owners:
- Utilize take out and curbside to-go services.
- Buy gift cards (many businesses have gift cards available on their websites) and class-passes (for yoga studios/gyms) to help small-business owners to continue to pay their employees and contractors while shut down temporarily.
- Purchase your bulk orders now (from a food co-op, for example). See if the business offers curbside pickup or delivery.
- Purchase merchandise from your favorite retailers, breweries, restaurants, etc., like shirts, hats, books, signs, etc. from their websites and have shipped to you.
- Support your local theaters and concert venues by purchasing gift certificates on their website that you can use at a future show. If the pandemic is causing you to miss one of your favorite acts, consider heading to their website and buying merchandise from your favorite artists. Some smaller/non-profit theaters and venues may also have a donation link on their website.
The entire Maine chamber community, more than 30 of whom met via conference call on Monday, is hard at work compiling resources and information aimed at helping Maine employers make sound and well-informed decisions for their operations, employees and customers. Maine CDC for Business and 211Maine are excellent immediate resources. Local and regional chambers are also working to identify creative solutions to help support Maine businesses until the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved.
The State Chamber and regional and local chambers will continue to regularly update members on pertinent developments. Some recent developments include:
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently approved Governor Mills’ application for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help Maine businesses overcome any temporary loss of revenue due to the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. Maine is one of the first states in the country to be approved, and Maine small business owners can now begin applying for these loans.
- As we work to assemble our website, we are very interested in the many stories of Mainers helping Mainers – specifically ways that businesses are helping their communities and their employees. We hope you will share your story with us too.
- And lastly, remember to be diligent and vigilant about your hand-washing and symptom monitoring.
It is critical that Maine people and employers prepare, not panic, during this time, and that the business community comes together to support one another and all Maine people. Our state has been tested before and we have proven our resilience. We are incredibly heartened by the generous contributions many companies are already making to help our citizens and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These businesses are a ray of light and we are proud to serve them.
Wishing you good health in uncertain times,
Dana Connors, President and CEO
Maine State Chamber of Commerce