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The best things you can do for local businesses in light of COVID-19

By Jason Freely / a few months ago
Social distancing sign for shoppers in a store

Social distancing is making shopping tricky, where in-person shopping is still allowed. Photo (CC) by Guido van Nispen


Monica Bailey of Rock Port, Missouri, sent in this question that I think you can relate to:

Thank you ladies, as always, for supporting small towns! My question is super generic but it is giving me sleepless nights. I am our counties economic/community development director and I’ve been scrambling to support our small businesses during this crisis. What’s the most helpful thing I can be doing for them right now??

Take care!

This is a great question. While there’s no one right answer, we are hearing lots of suggestions. And we’re making up a few of our own. I’ll have a more complete answer on this later, but right now here are my thoughts, in order of importance by my guesstimate:

1. Get in touch with each and every business.

  • How are they doing?
  • What have they changed?
  • Where do they know they need help right now?
  • Who’s hiring?

2. Get the word out.

  • Share what businesses and services are available now, what’s different, what’s still the same, what jobs are open.
  • Use every channel available to you.
  • Enlist others to spread the word.

3. Listen for community projects and activities that you can amplify.

  • Share stories of anyone doing anything positive, anything people can join in on safely.

4. Answer as many of the assistance program surveys and questionnaires as possible.

  • Get more businesses to, as well.
  • The longer this goes on, the more of these will come out. Many of them help determine how much money gets allocated where.

5. For businesses that are closed or downsized, help them transition.

  • What’s next for them?
  • What’s next for the space they occupied?

6. Play matchmaker.

  • Help businesses that are downsizing to combine with one another to share space or share resources, safely.

7. Fill empty spaces with cheerful things to look at.

  • Start filling empty business windows with art of any kind.

8. Start preparing for rebuilding.

  • Look for the small spaces and the shared spaces that will help the tiny new startups take root.

Bonus: Don’t do any of these alone.

  • There’s a whole community of people out there who want to help. Give them small but meaningful ways to participate, spread the word and cheer each other on.

Monica wrote back to say she’s already doing 1, 2 and 4, so I’m sure you’re on the right track too.

Hit reply or answer in the comments.

About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.

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