UPDATED: The order to stay home will hopefully protect individuals from the coronavirus, but it has the opposite effect on the area’s small businesses. Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce is busy pulling together information and resources to help business owners weather the stormy economic conditions.
“We’re trying to figure out how to best serve the community,” said Southport Marine’s Douglas Goldhirsch, who is chamber president. John Nunan, who directs the chamber’s marketing and communications, agreed. “Our job is to be agile as this progresses,” he told the Boothbay Register recently.
Nunan said the chamber is collecting and distributing information, much of it in the March 20 newsletter “Chamber Connections.”
The information in the newsletter includes links to help with SBA disaster loan assistance and an application; links to a video called “What you can do to save your business,” Maine SBA assistance loans, temporary suspension of routine visa services and safety guidance for employers; and other links to resources for individuals and parents.
Nunan said the chamber is receiving calls and emails about SBA disaster loans and it will be happy to help people fill out the forms. Once a state of emergency was declared in Maine, businesses became eligible for the loans. “Get the loan applications in early,” Nunan advised. “There will be a backlog so the sooner you can get them in, the better.”
The chamber’s Facebook page is being used to communicate with the public. A March 19 post explains, “With the current situation evolving we are gathering information on which businesses are still open in the region and what services they are offering. This list will be updated as soon as we gather any new information.”
Nunan asked businesses to send information so the list, updated daily, will have current information.
The post asks readers to help by sharing the list, which includes chamber and non-chamber businesses. View it at https://tinyurl.com/BoothbayRegionOpenBusinesses
“People are nervous,” Nunan said. ”They don’t know what to expect and how the season will be.” But he believes the area may be in a better situation than other areas. “We are seasonal and many businesses weren’t going to open until mid-May,” he explained.
Nunan said it’s important for businesses and the chamber to keep talking. “We are stronger as a group and we can evolve and change as a community.”