With Chester County and much of the nation facing what might be a second wave of COVID-19, we turned to Cheryl Kuhn to understand how businesses in southern Chester County are faring and how local chambers of commerce are helping those companies navigate the coronavirus economy. Cheryl is the President & CEO of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce.
- Restore Chester County: https://restorechestercounty.org/
- SCCCC LinkedIn
- SCCCC Facebook
- SCCCC Instagram
Main Street organizations:
What are businesses in southern Chester County experiencing as we appear to be approaching a second wave of the coronavirus?
- Overall, businesses are experiencing a cautious optimism about the future.
- While some businesses are in the extreme of “for” and “against” meeting in person again, most businesses are focused on sensibly trying to return to as much business normalcy as safely possible.
- While the cases of COVID-19 are spiking, the rates of death are decreasing, which seems to indicate that medical and health professionals are better treating patients with the virus.
- Some businesses in southern Chester County are thriving: accounting firms and landscapers, for example.
- Anecdotally, landscapers are busier because home owners are home when the landscapers are working so those owners are asking for more services and upgrades to their yards.
- Accountants are also likely busy because of the pandemic loan and grant programs.
How are restaurants preparing for the colder, winter months?
- COVID-19 has been terrible for restaurants and events spaces.
- Early in the lockdown periods, farmers had to destroy crops and produce because they could not sell to the closed restaurants and event venues.
- Some local restaurants have purchased tents, heaters, and tables and chairs – expenses that the owners had not predicated or saved for.
- Indoor seating will be limited to 20% of capacity, so the winter months are likely to be very hard for the restaurant, event, and hospitality sector.
- The Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign to support local restaurants: The campaign will feature four restaurants per week and will be focused on a “support local” theme.
- The former owner of the Dillworth Inn is working with local restaurant owners to help them make sure that their venues are in compliance with local and state COVID-19 health guidelines.
- Restaurant owners interested in taking advantage of this service should contact Cheryl directly at the SCCCC.
How has the SCCCC pivoted to serve members and business community during COVID-19?
- Since mid-March, the chamber of commerce has been working remotely.
- The team was two full-time employees (including Cheryl) and a single part-time employee; the part-time employee was laid-off during to the coronavirus.
- The SCCCC team quickly realized that COVID-19 would prove a long-term challenge – and so connected with the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and the PA Chamber of Business and Industry in Harrisburg to partner, and to make sure that the voice of businesses in southern Chester County was being heard.
- The SCCCC opened up its communications beyond its members and close prospects – it shared information with everyone in the local business community.
- The SCCCC has worked alongside federal, state, and local government.
- There are nine chambers of commerce in Chester County, representing 5,000 businesses.
- The SCCCC has hosted virtual town halls, informative webinars and other meetings.
- The SCCCC is on Chester County Commissioners’ Business Taskforce – which created restorechestercounty.org.
- The SCCCC partnered with local Main Street organizations in Kennett Square and Oxford.