The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus is causing major disruptions to businesses and communities across the world. COVID-19 is compromising supply chains, workers’ hours and income, and demand for products and services as consumers are encouraged to avoid public spaces. U.S. states have declared states of emergency, resulting in the closure of schools, churches, restaurants, and other places where people congregate.
These measures - while critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 - are already having an economic impact on individuals, businesses, and communities. These impacts likely will be felt around the country, and the world, for months to come.
During that time, look to this site - developed and managed by IEDC with generous support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration - for the news and resources your economic development organization (or partner organization) needs. IEDC's Economic Development Research Partners program also has committed funding to ensure that RestoreYourEconomy continues to provide up-to-date information and resources related to COVID-19 and its economic impacts.
Economic developers are uniquely positioned to provide support and facilitate communication due to their many connections with community partners. Below and across RestoreYourEconomy are resources for economic development leaders to help support their economies in the short and long term.
The following are credible sources to stay up to date on COVID-19:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- Situational Reports – updated continuously
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus COVID-19 Tracker
What can economic development organizations be doing?
Leadership in Times of Crisis: A Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency, a resource developed by IEDC with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, provides useful information and resources on disaster preparedness, crisis response, business continuity and recovery strategies that your business or community can use to mitigate against the risks posed. It's an excellent resource to get familiar with; in the meantime, here's a short list of actions.
1. Do your own continuity planning, if you haven’t already.
What are your EDO’s critical functions? How will it maintain those functions? For example, how will you effectively communicate with internal staff and external stakeholders? If your office is closed, are staff resourced to work from home, possibly for more than a couple of weeks? What are the potential financial and other impacts to your EDO in three months, six months?
- Stay up to date on what’s happening with businesses in your community.
Use all information channels at your disposal – monitor social media and mass media; make phone calls. Send out a business survey that asks about economic impacts and ideas for what types of services or programs would help. Develop an understanding of which types of businesses have closed, which have stayed open, and the various ways that different industries or sectors and their workers are impacted.
- What can you do to support businesses in your community?
EDOs are well positioned as trusted information brokers, and can push out relevant news about federal, state and local resources as they come on line.
For example, the Right Place, an EDO that serves West Michigan, has developed a COVID-19 Business Updates webpage. It includes posts about how manufacturers can mitigate the spread of COVID-19; links businesses that are hiring now for high-demand jobs during the pandemic; Michigan-specific resources and executive orders; links to relevant closures/cancellations and more.
Check back here for examples of other EDO and community responses in the days ahead.
Below is a brief overview of initial steps businesses should be taking to cope with and help contain COVID-19. More in-depth information can be found in Leadership in Times of Crisis: A Toolkit for Economic Recovery and Resiliency.
- Communication: a central component of managing crises is consistent communication with employees, business partners, your community and other stakeholders to minimize the disruption. This includes stating an appropriate policy to reduce your business’s exposure to COVID-19. Outline the precautions that your employees need to take as guided by the CDC.
- Explore alternative work options: your organization should be testing technologies (such as server access) in the event that meetings need to occur virtually, or employees need to work offsite.
- Identify your critical functions and determine the key employees needed to fulfill those functions. It may be necessary to minimize their exposure to other possible unknown carriers, including other employees.
- Reduce the amount of visits by suppliers and vendors to your workplace by purchasing in larger quantities. Establish a delivery protocol that limits employee interaction with drivers.
- Assess the possible financial implications of revenue loss, travel restrictions, supply chain disruptions, and explore external resources that could assist in alleviating those pressures (e.g. federal or local funding options).
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-SBA
- Update: Resources for Small Business on COVID-19-NSBA
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers-CDC
Please check back with RestoreYourEconomy as we continue to provide case studies, data, and resources to assist your community