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Support local! Utilize curbside, delivery and buy gift cards

By TODD J. TRANUM

President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

In addition to the many businesses that have been identified as essential by New York State there are many businesses that did not make that list that remain open but in a different way. Many small, local, retail business that take orders by phone or online, and fulfill orders by delivery or curbside pickup, are able to continue to operate in our community. They need your support! The businesses and customer must still maintain all the safe, social distancing rules – make sure to remain at a safe distance. For example, your favorite local flower shop, gift shop, bookstore, sporting goods or music shop may still be open. Make sure to check in on them and support them. There are many local businesses that have on-line stores and who offer gift cards. Buying products or gift cards now are meaningful ways to help these businesses financially.

The Chamber of Commerce has been working with the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, and Jamestown Renaissance Corporation to keep up to date with our web page, www.chqbuylocal.com. Our objective has been to support the local businesses that can still serve their customers in the midst of this pandemic and the resulting economic challenges. We opened up that site initially to restaurants and food service businesses doing takeout or delivery, and then opened it to essential service businesses that remain open. Now, we are adding delivery only businesses to that list, so that we can help to promote the small retailers that are able to do business in new ways.

It remains critically important that we all support locally owned businesses all the time, and especially now. Local business is the backbone of our economy. Even in the best of times it is hard for small retailers to function in the midst of large online retailers. One benefit of buying locally right now is that while the mega online stores have had to delay delivery, you can still shop locally and get local delivery or local curbside pickup at a time that suits your needs.

Please continue to support our local small businesses that are making every effort to keep their business open and viable at this most challenging time. Share their messages on your social media and keep them afloat.

APPLY NOW for Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program

Small businesses and nonprofits in our community with fewer than 500 employees are all eligible to apply for financial assistance under two different programs: 1) the Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan; and 2) the Paycheck Protection Program. These programs can work in tandem with one another, or individually, depending on your business needs, but they cannot cover the same expenses.

The Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan allows small business owners in New York State to apply for a loan advance of up to $10,000. This loan advance will not have to be repaid and funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. Applications are available through the federal Small Business Administration online.

The Paycheck Protection Program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll and is also open to self-employed or independent contractors. These loans are available through local banks. We will provide a list of participating local banks on our web page for Coronavirus & Businesses.

If you have questions about which program is right for you, we encourage all to contact the Small Business Development Center locally at (716) 338-1024 or find them online at www.sbdcjcc.org.

We have provided some overview information online about these programs, along with some helpful links, on our web page Coronavirus & Businesses at www.chautauquachamber.org.

In addition, the County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency has established a Working Capital Loan Program. For more information about that program visit www.ccida.com.

Self Employed and Sole Proprietors

The federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act provides enhanced Unemployment Insurance benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The New York State Labor Department has issued some guidelines on these items. We have direct, readily accessible links to those pages on our Coronavirus & Businesses web page, so go to www.chautauquachamber.org for more information.

Weekly Coronavirus and Business Video Conference Call

Join us on Monday’s at 3:30 p.m. for updates and to ask questions. This week we will feature information expert guidance regarding SBA Loans, Payroll Protection Program and Unemployment programs and resources. You may join us with video or just call in. Please join our meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. https://www.gotomeet.me/TTranum. You can also dial in using your phone. United States: +1 (571) 317-3122. Access Code: 283-421-797.

Chautauqua County Crisis Response Fund

Our local philanthropic community has established the Chautauqua County Crisis Response Fund: COVID-19. Through a partnership launched by the United Ways and Community Foundations of Chautauqua County, donations are being accepted and grants will be made to help fill critical needs. Grant awards will be made to non-profit organizations and will be designed to complement the work of government and expand local capacity. For more information visit www.chautauquagrants.org

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