Canby economy changing amid COVID-19
Normally at this time of year, Canby Economic Development and Tourism coordinator Calvin LeSueur would be hip-deep in preparation and planning for Canby's flurry of spring and summer activities.
But there is very little that is normal about life right now. And that has changed much of what LeSueur is doing and hopes to do in the coming months.
"My approach is that I'm trying to find a new approach in some ways," LeSueur said. "Normally, right now I'd be planning events, taking registration (for the Independence Day Celebration), but I haven't seen a registration form in a month. I'm working to try and shift more toward communication. I'm going to start sharing more on social media.
"I'm trying to figure out my role in all of this just like everyone else, and how I can help," he added.
LeSueur said he wants to be optimistic about things, but events are being canceled and small businesses in Canby are being hit hard. The events that are being canceled provided a good financial avenue for local businesses downtown, and those that wished to participate downtown. For the immediate future, there's nothing.
A decision about the Canby Independence Day Celebration will be made by Interim City Administrator Amanda Zeiber after Gov. Kate Brown provides an update on May 1. It is a dicey proposition at this point whether it will go off.
"I think it's likely that the event will be canceled or be totally different," LeSueur said. "That feels like a loss both from a celebratory and patriotic side, but also the small business side. Many of the downtown businesses say that's their biggest sales day of the year."
However, LeSueur did see a bit of a silver lining amid all of the chaos.
"It has been kind of exciting to see what certain businesses have been able to come up with and do in terms of promotion and still doing business," LeSueur said. "That silver lining is seeing businesses being creative."
Economic Development Director Jamie Stickel agrees.
"I think what we're seeing is a lot of our small businesses reformatting their offerings so that they can continue to serve their customers in this hard time we're having," Stickel said. "Additionally, seeing businesses work together and promote each other is so indicative of who Canby is as a whole, but really great to see at this time. We are seeing a decent amount of it, and it's really inspiring to me."
While the fate of the Independence Day Celebration, and other summertime events, hangs in the proverbial balance, LeSueur said he's hopeful that the governor's report on May 1 will open the doors to a more local approach to keeping the pandemic at bay.
He described the initial protocol as a "blunt instrument to save us all," but is hopeful that "we'll start to have a more local approach. Then we can see businesses reopen in, perhaps, creative and different ways. Perhaps moving forward, some of the regulations on closing will be left more to local jurisdiction. I'm looking toward to what happens locally."
And while day-to-day business among Canby's residents is crucial, another component of the financial engine is the many people who visit Canby for the many festivals and events the city holds from spring through summer. Tens of thousands of people visit Canby each year during this time and many spend coin on local businesses.
When events like the Record Bonanza and Garden Fair and others are canceled or rescheduling, that takes a bite out of the tourism dollar pie that makes a difference. With more events likely to shutter or reschedule, that bite becomes bigger.
"It's going to be really difficult for the community to forgo these events," LeSueur said. "On the emotional side, people have been coming to these events for years. I know we are going to lose a lot in terms of tourism and marketing.
"I want to be optimistic, but it's going to continue to be tough for small businesses," he concluded.
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