So grateful for a beautiful day today, and the opportunity to get outside for some exercise. We’ve got to keep moving! Actually, that’s a great lead-in for my thoughts today. As an economy, too, we’ve got to keep moving! Each of us carries a burden unique to our situation, while as a community we share this experience of – what do we do now?
More resources are available, in light of last week’s work at the State Legislature and in Congress. Specifically at the Federal level, the CARES Act brings new programs – and serious money. Two are important to highlight: Pandemic Unemployment Insurance and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans/Grants. Links to details are listed below.
We find that businesses now are knee-deep in the sorting process – navigating among the opportunities to determine which are a match and how to get started. Many organizations like ours are building some great online programming, and SPACC is promoting all that we are tracking. Our own programming is focused on that “Knowledge Network,” helping our members determine their best next steps forward. If you can, find a steady source of information and return to that one. In our website, Ramsey County is a great resource. Check out www.ramseycountymeansbusiness.com and share this information with your employees and networks as needed.
A moment’s pause to acknowledge and thank Saint Paul’s DSI, Public Works, and PED departments: allowing for the use of established parking lanes as temporary curbside pick-up zones. It may seem like a small gesture, but this accommodation lets us know the City “sees” us and wants to support our restaurants. Thank you!
And one final note for landlords: Saint Paul’s proposed Bridge Fund will allow eligible businesses to use those funds for rent. If you own a building or are an eligible company tenanting in a building, you both should know about this opportunity. Definitely mutually beneficial.
From business unusual to business VERY unusual. In uncertain times it's said you can have two reactions – hope or fear. I'm watching businesses choose another path – adapt and affect change. I know it's exhausting and there are a lot of uncertainties, but there are many ways to make a difference, amplify your ROI, and help your community through these challenges. Keep up the amazing effort, and we are here to support you.
At the Chamber, like you we find ourselves in an incredibly stressed environment right now, offset by thankfulness and long term optimism. Our state and federal government are making decisions to support our most vulnerable in the short term, while shoring up business to survive and even thrive in the recovery. The question, of course, is will the money get to the right places to keep business afloat and families solvent? That’s how we’ll get through this.
Because of the ever-changing and important information for businesses that we're tracking, I'm including all of our members and partners on this email. If you would like to opt-in to continue to receive these emails, please sign up for COVID-19 updates here.
I’m looking ahead. I anticipate a deep but short lived recovery. Because the economic fundamentals are good. And the government is doing some smart things in terms of assistance and economic stimulus. Yes, we will have significant challenges in supply chain recovery but I like where we started. And this economic seizure is different from the Great Recession. This isn’t about fault, or about material bad actors. So the all-hands-on-deck approach we are seeing is fundamentally different.
The charge before us: prepare for the recovery, be ready to grow again. Because the economy will recover so long as we all can survive. And right now we all are making tough decisions in order to do so. What’s the “right” path moving forward? Where do I spend and where do I cut? On the advice of some very wise mentors, I am thinking about our guiding principles moving forward, to provide context for our actions as we make a series of judgment calls. Because, first off, we need to reset expectations. The budget and our strategic plan for the year is no longer our playbook. What principles will guide your organization in this New Normal? This will be different for each of us.
1) We must be a good steward of our resources
2) We must be sensitive to stressors being experienced by our constituency
3) We must take actions that position this organization to be relevant coming out of this crisis
Whatever your framework, the goal is to position ourselves to come out of this with a well-conceived plan to ramp up quickly. Be encouraged!
You know what it looks like - in city council chambers and legislative hearing rooms, advocates for policy change show up en masse in the same color t-shirt, sometimes carrying signs, serving as a visible prompt that "a LOT of people support our issue." But what if the people who support (or oppose) a proposal can't attend a committee hearing at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning, or a Monday council meeting that stretches into the night?
Business owners are frequently in that latter boat -- while they are highly affected by policy changes at the local, state and federal level, they often can't be in the room. As the primary lobbyist for the Chamber, I understand this dilemma. And every time I get up to testify for or against a policy proposal, I remind the elected officials that I represent the people who can't be there in the room -- because they're running the businesses that create the jobs and pay the taxes that fund government services like plowed streets and responsive fire departments. I thank the elected officials that recognize that business owners who send me instead of coming themselves are just trying to make everything work -- for everybody.
The business community will never win the t-shirt war. And while Chamber relationships do help, and having more policymakers who understand business is important, the one thing that will always make a difference to elected officials is constituents. In 2020, the SPACC public affairs department is putting renewed focus on keeping you informed, and creating ways for our members to engage with policymakers on issues that affect you and your businesses -- without having to show up on a Tuesday morning in a t-shirt.
As always, we appreciate your partnership in the work. Thank you for being in the trenches with us!
Director of Public Affairs
Follow me on Twitter @Shannon_SPACC