It has been a difficult couple of weeks, with the world reacting with uncertainty to the Coronavirus and market news. The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and our affiliate organizations have been closely monitoring the outbreak and its impact on our members and communities. Our commitment lies with serving you and our region in any capacity we can during this unprecedented time.
I wanted to provide you with an update on how we and our affiliates – the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation and Visit North Central Massachusetts – are responding. This is our plan as of now, but clearly things could change as new information arises.
Chamber Events: It is important that our members remain safe and secure from any potential exposure to the Coronavirus- therefore the Chamber has cancelled most of our major events for the month of March including our Good Morning North Central Breakfast and the upcoming Economic Forecast Breakfast. Many of our smaller events, forums and meetings in March have also been postponed for now. We will work to reschedule many of these to later in the Spring. Any members registered will receive a credit, or a refund if they prefer. We will be closely monitoring the situation and take any necessary precautions regarding April events and meetings as needed. Please stay tuned for more information or visit our website for the status of our programs.
Webinars: We encourage members to explore the webinar library offered on our website that we launched in the Fall. Stay tuned for new online opportunities for learning and information exchange. Responding to the current situation and in an effort to support members, the Chamber is working on developing new webinars focused on the complex issues facing businesses during this crisis and post-crisis.
Chamber Operations: Both the Chamber Office and our Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center on Route 2 are maintaining regular office hours for now, with special protocols in place. We want to make sure that that we can continue to be a resource to you, so we have also taken the necessary steps so that our team can work remotely, if they need to.
Coronavirus Impact Survey: In an effort to gain an accurate assessment of the outbreak’s impact to businesses, the Chamber has created this brief survey. Thank you to the many members that have already completed the survey. If you have not done so yet, please take a moment to. All information will be reported in general terms and individual business information will remain confidential. Alternatively, please feel free to reach out to me directly with any challenges or disruptions that you have experienced over the last two weeks.
Coronavirus Information & Resources: We have developed an online page with links to different resources to help educate employers and employees on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus. It includes information from the CDC, State and the US Chamber. We will update this online toolkit as new guidance and information becomes available. We encourage you to continue to monitor the outbreak and implement strategies to help protect your customers and employees, with the least possible impact to your operations.
Lending and Assistance: Our team is ready to discuss small business assistance programs and loans to help cover any cash flow challenges you may be experiencing from any disruption in business. If we can’t help, we can connect you to the SBA or one of our other partners who may be able to assist you. Please contact Sandie Cataldo, Economic Development Manager at 978.353.7600 ext. 232 or Brendan Hannen at ext. 234 for assistance or to inquiry about an emergency loan.
Post-Outbreak Recovery Promotion: Our marketing team is strategizing on a few different marketing campaigns to support small businesses in recovering from the disruption. We are also collaborating with other groups in advocating for the development of a state-wide campaign. Please contact David Ginisi, our Marketing and Communications Manager at ext. 240 if you have any thoughts or ideas.
In closing, we recognize that you may be feeling the impact of this crisis in an immediate and profound way. We are committed to helping you get through this. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if we can help.
Roy Nascimento, IOM, CCE
President & CEO