During a crisis we can find ourselves wanting to help but not knowing how. The coronavirus is taking a toll on businesses of all sizes. What can economic development organizations do to help?
While state agencies and organizations are implementing special measures to assist businesses experiencing COVID-19 disruptions (see links below), there are ways to assist small / main street businesses at the local level.
Oregon Main Street compiled this useful list of ideas:
Encourage community members to buy gift certificates at local restaurants to be used later in the year
Help restaurants connect to food delivery services or more take-out options
Yoga studios doing videoconference sessions
Retail businesses enhancing their online shopping experience. or finally getting moving on creating one
Small-Medium businesses intensifying their social media presence
Offer facetime, skype, or chat channel services for selling virtually face-to-face, answering questions, providing the same customer service interaction you would get in a M&P atmosphere at location
When people work remotely, they are more susceptible to online shopping, checking in with social media more often, ect. Encourage businesses to take advantage of this.
Develop a cleaning protocol w/a local cleaning service and go out one-on-one to businesses; develop a pledge “Downtown Cares About Your Health” with on-site messaging available to promote enhanced cleaning and other measures
Encourage businesses to publish their commitment to public health, outlining their actions for offering a clean facility and healthy staff
Keep customers updated on new experiences or products you'll offer when things subside
Coffee shops who roast can set up a customer membership for "subscribe & save" delivery or pick-up of beans, get people to order for the next couple weeks
Small grocers can offer to receive online grocery lists and shop for their customers to pick-up products or deliver them
Promote the value and reliability of locally sourced and local supply chains
Stay in touch with customers by livestreaming. Show what you are doing to stay in business and get excited about the strategies you've come up with to meet customer needs during this time. Ex: Coffee shop that welcome people to connect with them every morning at 8am for the local news downtown, the local history story of the morning, the morning joke, or a meet your barista spotlight, etc.
Look into business interruption insurance
Local physicians to offer telemedicine services
Breweries can keep offering trivia nights by livestreaming and using an app that polls people's responses, customers being encouraged to drink their brews while participating or getting extra points for posting a picture of them and their brews at home.
More Assistance at the State Level:
Here are examples of more resources from Oregon, as well as two other West Coast states.
Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA):
California Employment Development Department: