Originally published as part of a larger article in the Portland Press Herald / Times Record
BY CORY KING FROM THE CHAMBER
Our world has changed. Covid-19 has re-shaped how we live our daily lives (or at least it should have). If you have not adjusted your routines, I can not express enough how much physical distancing is a requirement now. This is a very real issue and it’s going to take national recognition and compliance to safety standards to help us all.
There are healthcare professionals who can speak much more soundly then I can on the health ramifications of Covid-19. But as the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber representing businesses in Bath, Brunswick, Harpswell, Topsham and a dozen other communities, I can speak on the business impact.
The past week and a half has been extremely hectic. Businesses are struggling with decisions on how to stay open and if they should. Yet, there is a bit of silver lining in this catastrophe, which is all of the collaboration happening locally, and statewide to help spread messages about best practices and business promotion. Here are several pieces you should be aware of both as a business owner, business patron or citizen of our region. Some of these are specific programs while others are general observations.
The Internet and Social Media Can Be a Great Asset: Regardless of how the internet, screen time and social media has hurt our face-to-face interactions, at this time of physical distancing, the internet and social media can really help us stay connected. There is a phrase I’ve heard that says “you need to be physically distant not necessarily socially distant.” And that’s true, we don’t need to be in the same room and space to connect now. Many of the suggestions below use the internet and Facebook, so if you don’t have an active Facebook account, now might be a good time to join or reactivate your account...
...Brunswick Downtown Association’s Operation Pick-Up: The Brunswick Downtown Association did an incredible project where they contacted their members and have a running list on their website of which businesses are open, which are temporarily closing and what they are offering. The program is called Operation Pickup and the list is broken out by industry type (Restaurants, Shops, Entertainment, etc) and has things like: “Cool As a Moose: Online only until April 1” or “Key Bank and Camden National drive up and online services only.” It’s an incredible tool for their businesses and something everyone should know about. You can find it as the first item on their homepage at www.brunswickdowntown.org
SMMC’s Covid-19 Facebook Group: Inspired by the BDA Operation Pickup, our chamber look at the Kennebec Valley Chamber (Augusta region) who came up with a Facebook Group for local business updates for the Covid-19 era and so we have created our own Facebook group. Essentially businesses and citizens join the group to share which businesses are open and what their deals are. It’s not a duplication of efforts with the BDA because we have 16 communities we represent, but we will be highlighting the BDA work on our Facebook group. The goal is to get out as much information as we can. To join the group which is called: “Midcoast Restaurant & Business Highlights During Covid-19” simply log onto the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber Facebook page at www.facebook.com/southernmidcoastmainechamber You’ll see the link to the group all over our page. Or you can search the Facebook Group name on the Facebook search function. Businesses and citizens are welcome to join the group. It’s a great way for businesses to share their own news to people in the area.
Other Programs and Opportunities: With things moving and changing so quickly we will continue to highlight these updates. Next week we’ll focus on projects like Pay It Forward Maine, a regional chamber program started by the Portland Regional Chamber that we are partnering on, along with Tax Day moving to July 15, and highlighting other non-business ways to connect such as Quarantine Karaoke and some educational programs you can find online.
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