With the current COVID-19 crisis affecting every level of business in Shelby County, the suburban business chambers that make up the Shelby County Chamber Alliance are open and say they’re ready to help.
Chamber directors in Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington have been busier than ever since the virus struck, as businesses search for ways to adapt and remain afloat.
In a conference call late last week, Alliance leaders shared resources they have found beneficial to their specific members, and the collaboration was deemed so encouraging they agreed to hold a weekly call until the crisis passes.
“At this time, we’re focused on being a resource for the business community in two primary areas,” Collierville Chamber Director Mark Heuberger said. “First, providing the most current information on financial assistance programs such as the SBA Disaster Relief Loans, access to the required forms, tutorials, webinars and contact information to help them navigate the loan process. And secondly, the Collierville Chamber staff is calling our members. We check on how they are doing, and we ask if we can assist them in any way.”
Tonia Howell, chamber director in Arlington, has found the amount of information coming from federal, state and local government to be outstanding yet overwhelming to business owners.
“Our members need our help in navigating the information they are receiving,” she said. “I look for the webinars and resources that can help them use the information that applies to their business and that will help them weather this storm.”
She has been making calls talking to members. Of the businesses that remain open, most indicate business is slower, although restaurants and caterers are busy filling delivery and pickup orders.
The Bartlett Area Chamber has had communications with a lot of its members over the past couple of weeks and has started the process of contacting every member by phone.
“Many of our members choose to remain open, either on site with a reduced staff and/or working from home,” Director John Threadgill said. “Bartlett’s health care providers are obviously open, and most medical device manufacturers are still in production. Given that many of our Bartlett area businesses have national and/or international warehousing and distribution as part of their primary function, they too have an essential role to play in keeping the economy moving forward.”
Since the Alliance chambers represent 2,600 total businesses in Shelby County and more than 100,000 employees of those businesses, he feels it is imperative to assist business leaders in any way possible.
In Germantown, the chamber is also busy keeping members informed about SBA loans and other relevant information.
“Like everyone, we’re having to look at how we can change the way we do things,” Germantown Chamber Director Janie Day said. “Just doing our normal work is challenging with some of our staff working remotely, so we know our members are struggling. We’re looking at holding our new-member orientation online. We could postpone it, but we want to help our members, especially these new members who are at a loss right now.”
The Millington Chamber has stepped up to become the informational hub of the city, according to Director Terry Roland.
“We’re glad to serve this role and help our citizens get through this challenging time,” he said. “That’s our job, helping Millington be stronger. And we’re looking to the future, with our new $100 million development, there will be better days ahead.”
The Lakeland Chamber is encouraging its members to keep them updated on their operations.
“This gives us a way to gauge the current state of our city’s economy,” Director Brittney Buchanan said. “The Lake District is beginning to pour foundations and work on vertical construction – we’re counting on this to help us recover from this difficult time.”
The chambers are also encouraging businesses to look ahead and start developing plans for when things return to normal, including what resources will they need and what resources can the chambers provide to help make their transition back to normal as effective as possible.
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