With many local businesses either having been shut down, or impacted in some way due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing more variation in how services are being provided locally and businesses are working hard to adapt to the current situation.
According to Jaimie Malmgren, Executive Director of the Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce (PSCC), the dust has settled a little since the pandemic first hit the area. “There was a lot of fear and uncertainty in those initial weeks; however, we are starting to see businesses somewhat settle into a new sense of normal. As a Chamber, our goal was to be a resource for businesses to help guide them through it, even though we are kind of in the same boat. We knew there needed to be something out there that businesses could reach out to and express concerns, ask questions or just relate to other businesses and communicate with one another.”
A partnership between the PSCC, City of Warman and City of Martensville saw the COVID-19 Business Task Force get created. Each week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, a conference call takes place at 3pm where businesses can get information regarding Federal and Provincial initiatives for businesses, and also work with one another to help get through the current situation.
“Through this, we are seeing businesses adapting to things and making changes needed to continue to be successful. Many are taking this time for professional development, working on their social media presence and E-commerce, setting up online stores and more. We are seeing businesses digging their heels in and doing the hard work. Businesses have got to keep present and stay in the forefront of consumers’ minds and if they don’t do that, they will be forgotten about,” Malmgren said.
Through the Task Force, Malmgren stated that there are several major concerns that resonate within the business community. One of the concerns lies within the major expense that comes with their leases. Another concern is the uncertainty of how long this is going to last. Another topic that comes up frequently has to do with navigating the various programs available to help businesses financially.
“Despite everything that is happening in the world around us, one thing that we have seen is that people are understanding the importance of supporting local. We are hearing it from the business owners themselves and they are so grateful for the support they have received from the residents within the region.”
The PSCC is providing updates regularly to all of their members and invite businesses that may not be members to contact them if they have questions, and to take part in the COVID-19 Response Task Force conference calls. “The Chamber is there for all businesses. Of course having a membership gives you additional perks, but the main thing is the health and strength of our business region.”
The PSCC is seeing their own impact due to the COVID-19 situation, as the future of two of their major events is currently unknown. If businesses are unable to make it through this, membership for the Chamber will be down as well. “We will definitely be impacted, just to what extent, we are unsure of at this point. We want to be here for the business community and we feel the Chamber plays a very important role in the business community and we will do what we can to survive this, no different than any other business.”
For more information about the Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce, the COVID-19 Response Task Force, and regular updates on various funding programs that are in place, visit www.prairieskychamber.ca.