The current role of the Chamber
At the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce, we are primarily seen as a business networking organization. But at this time, we have found this an opportunity to adjust our efforts during a time when "networking" is scarcely possible.
Regardless of the ability to be physically present, we have found ourselves being more available than ever to our businesses and community. COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to connect with and gain information and ideas from multiple partners across our region. We are taking an active role in being a resource during this pandemic and are supporting the Prineville and Crook County business community in multiple ways. We have found our focus changing from supporting an active and thriving business community and promoting tourism, to helping to plan for business preparedness, sustainability and economic recovery.
Here is a quick snapshot of what we have been doing:
We are a resource for facts, information and tools during the COVID-19 crisis. We have been partnering with all regional chambers to provide the most up to date and accurate resources and tools. We have updated our own website with critical and timely information regarding the disease, business resources and numerous programs set up to help in this economic crisis. We have found ourselves directing businesses to federally funded programs such as the Payment Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, as well as sharing with them local programs such as the Crook County Business Task Force COVID-19 grants, and Facebook Small Business Grants Program.
We also provided information on mortgage and utility assistance, and encouraged businesses to connect with their local banking institutions for financial sustainability programs. It's been a full time, yet rewarding job to we continually educate and inform our members and partners.
We are encouraging local generosity. We jumped into action immediately by facilitating a group of volunteers to help those in need at this time. We have been a matchmaker between those needing groceries, masks, diapers, etc. and a group of locals with the time and resources to assist in providing and delivering to those with a need. It has been a time when "giving back" has been a growing trend. For more information on filling a need, or to request your own help, please visit the Prineville Volunteer Network on Facebook or contact our office at 541-447-6304.
We are taking on the role of advocate. We have been a voice at the state and local levels for policies and strategies that will help our members, partners, public safety and government leaders to navigate, structure and lead during this time. This means working with local chambers on regional impact and actively engaging your local governments with recommendations and feedback from local businesses. We also found ourselves taking on a role of being part of the Crook County Business Task force, a group set up to gather and reward grants to local businesses. As the fiscal agent for this grant, we got the pleasure of distributing the funds to over 120 local businesses.
We are leading by example. As hard as it was to close our doors, we abide by the state guidelines to close our office to the public and work remotely when possible during this time. We have gotten creative with our normal "in person" events, and have found a great resource in online meeting platforms. By implementing digital technology, we have been able to continue our day-to-day operations, meetings with local agencies and organizations as well as conducting our own networking functions.
We also postponed many events, or found ways to still hold them virtually. One example of this is our Friday morning "Perk" that we hold each Friday on Facebook at 8 a.m. We have had as many online viewers as we previously had in-person attendance at our events. It's been a great way to still be present in our community and promote our local businesses.
We are still open for business. Above all, we have made sure to let our members and our community know that we are still on the job and serving our business community, regardless of Chamber membership. As we work to inform and educate, as we support "flattening the curve," and as we take a part in staying home and saving lives, the Prineville-Crook County Chamber is reminding everyone that we are still fully performing duties needed at this time. We are caring, serving, listening, and being as creative as possible during this pandemic.
It is during this time that we at the Prineville-Crook County Chamber realize we can make an impact and live up to our reputation for being a partner to our businesses. We are showing up and doing what it takes to be resilient in a difficult situation. Know that we are a resource, encouraging volunteerism, advocating for our businesses, and leading by example. We are doing what it takes to show we do not fold when things are tough. We gladly have taken on the "cheerleader" role to support a comeback in our local economy. We have been endlessly brainstorming and assisting in innovative relief efforts to waive fees, delay penalties and remove barriers with the goal to help business get back in the game.
We find it of the utmost importance to strategically plan for financial recovery and to forge new partnerships with economic developers, local and regional leaders. We are here to serve and lead, and find it rewarding to support not just our members, but all of our local businesses.
It has been a rough ride, but we are in it for the long haul and look forward to coming our stronger when the COVID-19 crisis is over. Be well, stay safe and keep up the great work. In times of great difficulty, we have overcome before, and we will overcome again.
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