We began 2020 with a strong vision of where we wanted to grow as a business community in the 12 months before us. Little did we know we would be hit with the largest pandemic we have seen in nearly a century. While we are eager to move beyond this year and toward something better, I want to take time to reflect on some significant “wins” we have achieved with your help.
First of all, our local healthcare workers stepped up in a phenomenal way from the beginning. Because they were as prepared as possible, they were able to move into quick, skilled execution treating this unknown virus and saving countless lives along the way. From our health department, hospital system and long-term care facilities, we could not have asked for more dedicated individuals. Thanks to many of our members, we were able to recognize these folks with meals, banners and more.
The Chamber had the opportunity to step into a facilitation role for Wayne County’s COVID-19 taskforce, assembling leaders from the public and private sectors and including large business, small business, education, nonprofit and healthcare. Because of this group’s leadership, a quick response was possible. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were mobilized to provide personal protective equipment, relief funds and low or no interest loans to both the for profit and not-for-profit entities.
We connected members to legislators through regular Think Tank sessions. Congressman Pence, Senator Young, State Senator Raatz and Representative Barrett made themselves available, heard local concerns and in some cases turned around and passed legislation as soon as the following week to meet the need.
Lastly, we altered our direction slightly to support our small businesses in an even greater way than most years. This included partnering with the Indiana Small Business Development Center to bring relevant training each month. Restaurant Week and Shop Small Saturday drove business to these entrepreneurs at a time when they needed it most. And now as the holidays are upon us, we have already sold over $36,000 in Chamber Gift Certificates to be used with our local businesses.
Yes, we are ready for a New Year, but as we count our blessings, we have many reasons to be thankful. Those reasons include you.
– Melissa Vance, Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO