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Businesses do find positives: Vermilion Chamber of Commerce sends out survey to parish businesses

In trying times, it can be difficult to find and focus on positives.
During its “Refocused Coffee & Conversation” virtual meeting on April 24, the Vermilion Chamber of Commerce found that many business owners are indeed finding some highs among lows of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
The Chamber is meeting virtually with business owners to connect, share ideas, and find out how they are navigating these uncertain times. Chamber President Megan Landry-Lalande said this is providing a productive opportunity for all involved. “The Chamber’s goal through the Refocused Coffee & Conversation Virtual Meetings,” Lalande said, “is to get a pulse on our members, connect them with like-minded industry professionals and find innovative ways to help them through either connections or resources.”
Some of the highs provided from businesses included:
• Increase in sales
• Manufacturers understanding the situation to help others
• Business remains open
• People are no longer stock-piling goods
• Extending premiums and decreasing rates to help clients
• Increase in production
• Partnering with the community to assist where needed
• Foregoing disconnection of electricity to help as long as we can
• Able to help businesses get financial resources and help with loan paperwork
• Received PPP loan to get employees back to work
• Finding innovative ways to recognize people through awards and recognition
• Being able to keep everyone on the payroll
• Learning virtual tactics to continue to assist clients

Business owners also shared various approaches to operating during this time. One said they are learning to be flexible. Another mentioned finding ways to give back to the community, while another focused on outreach and finding ways to help promote students and schools. One recommendation centered on creating partnerships with other small businesses. “Remember who is helping you now” served as a strong message. Another piece of advice is essential now and in the future. “Support local as best as we can.”
One question asked during the meeting is what bright spots have been seen during these times and it returned some positive answers. Among them:

• Reevaluate operating systems – online & virtual
• Causing different generations to come together to develop remedies
• Having more mobility
• Teaching people how to be more digital
• Forcing people to slow down and have more appreciation
• Employees having more appreciation for a Team; cross-training workforce - teams overlapping to get things done
• Learning to reset and reevaluate
• Having more time to work on internal tasks – goals & employee evaluations
• Taught us a lot of what’s important = family, connections and relationships
• Allowing time to work on the business and not just within the business

No playbook existed for how people and businesses could respond to the pandemic. However, people and businesses are learning more about handling it each day. The Vermilion Chamber will continue to connect with its members to help promote new, better ideas to respond to uncertain times and more importantly to get people connected!
“The first virtual meeting has shown how much our community is finding positives during this time of discontent,” Lalande said. “Businesses are reassessing and reevaluating their business processes and goals and finding ways to reconnect with their employees and clients.
“Through these informal meetings, we are truly embodying of mission to “create a positive business and community environment.”

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