CHAMBER NEWS: March 20, 2020
Business is not usual at this time because of the COVID-19 event
and the quickly evolving changes to our everyday personal and work life. Following is information compiled from several sources that we hope is helpful to you.
Dear Chamber Members:
With the rapidly unfolding situation surrounding COVID-19 and its implications for business, we remain committed to keeping you informed and sharing tips for managing the situation. If ever there was a time for business-to-business communication and sharing, now is that time. Please do your part in staying informed, following best practices and helping by sharing your solutions and ideas with others through the Chamber.

Changing habits requires patience and perseverance. Experts say it takes 21 days to change a habit. I’m confident that now that we are two weeks into first awareness then the emergency declaration, most of us are taking all necessary precautions to stay well and help others stay well.

An abundance of information from parish, regional, state and federal agencies is being shared with the Chamber. We are doing our best to share the most relevant of those with our members. Included today from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is an 11-page memorandum identifying essential critical infrastructure workers during this crisis. It is worth your time to read and appreciate these essential workers who are showing up during this crisis to protect their communities and ensure continuity functions critical to public health and safety as well as economic and national security.

A statewide chamber conference call was held at this morning. New items to mention are banks are being asked by the FDIC to relax collections for 90 days and the SBA website for loan applications is being overloaded; it is recommended people try applying through the website during “off” hours. 

There will be another call this afternoon with our governor, and Chamber professionals from around the state will be on yet another Facebook Live session. Our staff is participating to learn from all of these and other resources to share with you. 

Big shout out to our Jessica Hester for taking the lead in developing the new Facebook page St. Tammany Eats. Since Wednesday over 70 restaurants have listed their takeout services and over 1,200 people are following the page! If you have not liked it, please do. Several small retailers are also offering online or phone orders for curbside pickup. Let us know who you/they are!

Another shout out to Stephen Waguespack, CEO of Louisiana Association of Business and Industry for a great article he authored. We share his encouragement to purchase gift certificates from small locally owned retailers and service establishments. 

We hope that many of our members were able to respond to yesterday’s email request on behalf of large retailers who employ over 25% of the nation's workforce. Our sources say that several are closed temporarily.

Among the many facts I learned during a recent U.S. Chamber meeting is that of all consumer purchases nationwide, 16% are made online. I was impressed with the whopping 84% still being spent in person at retail storefront businesses, large and small. I am proud to be among the 84%!  

We are working with one of our behavioral health businesses that is developing a video we will share as soon as it is available; the video is to help all of us deal with another unseen enemy: our emotional and mental health. Be it finances, income interruptions, childcare, elderly/ill parental care, fear of coronavirus infection, we can all use reassurance offered by mental health professionals.  

While we all can appreciate that this crisis is temporary, we also can’t ignore that the unknowns regarding severity and duration make this a very challenging time for everyone. We believe that one way we can help alleviate the angst is through effective, two-way communication. We pledge to continue to do our part in providing information. We strongly encourage you to do the same. 

On behalf of our board of directors and staff, we can’t thank you enough for your ongoing support. We are here for you as we navigate this situation together.

Remember: Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Be vigilant about social distancing. Stay healthy. Shop small, shop local, eat local take out. 

Lacey Osborne
President and CEO
St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce

Tom Meyer
Chairman of the Board
St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce
Informative Links
Navigating Today's Challenging Business Situation
Resources Compiled from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Managing Concerns When Employees Can't Work Remotely
Grocers are open. Restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options. Health care professionals and first responders go to work every day. Not all industries have employees who can work remotely.

Here's information to help businesses manage coronavirus concerns for employees who are not working remotely. Also, click here for a customizable flyer you can share with your customers.
Creating an Emergency Work-From-Home Policy
Your employees may already be working from home. You may already have established work-from-home guidelines.

Whatever your situation, here's information from Human Resources professionals that you may find helpful.

It also includes links to group communication tools with some offering free usage.
Staying Connected With Customers
Increase your social media presence. Everyone is checking their social media much more frequently these days.

Offer online deals. If you operate a service-based business, consider offering online sales of gift certificates for use later. If your business already has an e-commerce component, encourage online shopping--maybe even offer coupons.
For up-to-date health information, visit these Chamber member websites:

Been Too Busy to Cook...
Help a Local Restaurant
Go to St. Tammany Eats--Take Out and Delivery Options and order from a St. Tammany restaurant. It saves you time and provides much needed support to our local restaurants!

Spread the word to restaurants you know to post information about their restaurant on the St. Tammany Eats Facebook page. AND, spread the word to everyone you know to go to the Facebook page and support local restaurants!
Chamber staff can be reached at the following numbers:

  • Lacey Osborne, President and CEO: (985) 273-3004
  • Meredith Wright, Director of Membership: (985) 273-3002
  • Megan Haggerty, Director of Business Development: (985) 273-3008
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