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Businesses are ready to reopen

Commentary

The Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce have been working diligently and with urgency with leaders at the federal, state and local level, our boards of directors and a variety of stakeholders in the community to forge forward strategically toward safely reopening our economy.

We recognize there is no clear guide for reopening an economy given the circumstances posed by COVID-19. However, we do recommend that reopening the economy should not solely be tied to Regional Economic Development Committee footprints, but should also take into account, low density areas within the regions, the health care preparedness of low density areas within the regions, along with the level of preparedness and safety among economic sectors. Construction and manufacturing have been open, albeit to a reduced extent throughout the pause period. These sectors have demonstrated their ability to safely manage their workplaces. Notably, rural less dense areas of Western New York are having a different experience in terms of COVID infections than more dense areas.

Importantly, within the three rural counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua, hospitalizations and hospital deaths are on the decline, our hospitals have capacity, we have adequate ICU beds, testing supplies are readily available and contact tracer infrastructure has been put in place. Manufacturing and construction stand ready to fully reopen.

Many businesses across the region have taken incredible strides in a short period of time to develop plans and to add additional safety features and protocols within their organizations consistent with OSHA and CDC guidance. This work must and will continue as all businesses are required to put a reopening/COVID resiliency plan in place. Having COVID resiliency plans in place is now a standard procedure to reopening and operating a business.

Our organizations in partnership with the business community are striving to reopen the economy in a way that is responsible to the health and safety of workers and the community as a whole. The business community is taking a pro-active role in identifying ways in which their businesses can open safely. The business community takes this responsibility seriously and recognizes that COVID resiliency is not only imperative to re-opening but is critically important to avoiding a resurgence of the disease.

We must move forward with urgency and be pro-active. Although the ultimate decision resides with the governor, we must continue to work at the business sector level, local level and regional level to plan all phases to restart the economy.

While we begin to open certain sectors within our counties and regions we recognize that we need to continue planning and preparing based on the best guidance we have available. There are many pieces to this process which need to move forward on parallel paths as we strive to reopen the economy in a way that is responsible. We need to continue to understand data pertaining to the virus, we need to continue to encourage robust testing and contact tracing, we need to continue planning for reopening within each sector and business within our economy, we need to advocate for our businesses and business sectors to reopen and we need to communicate with our community members and our workforce the need to continue to be cautious but that it is safe to return to work and circulate back into the economy.

We are ready!

Todd Tranum is the President/CEO, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Director of Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

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