Whitefish Chamber Friday Update
June 19, 2020
In this issue
  • COVID-19's latest victim ... our Fourth of July Fireworks display
  • Summer 2020 edition of FishBIZ in the works ... advertise now!
  • New 'loan deferment' program helps businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • Local lodging survey -- how's your summer lookin'?  Respond today!
  • Chamber Survey -- How concerned are you about COVID lawsuits?
July 4 display cancelled due to COVID concerns
'Pulling the plug' on Fireworks 2020

     After working for more than a month to try and save our community's Independence Day Fireworks Show, Chamber officials on Wednesday officially "pulled the plug" on this year's event.

     "This is the last thing we wanted to do," said Chamber Executive Director Kevin Gartland, "and I apologize to our residents -- and visitors -- that we couldn't get it done."

     City and County officials late last month determined that the event -- which typically attracts 3-4,000 people to Whitefish City Beach -- couldn't be held safely, as COVID-19 "social distancing" guidelines would be impossible to enforce. 

'Alternate locations' eliminated ... one by one
      Not willing to give-up on the event, the Chamber identified three different alternate locations for the show, and worked with the City-County Health Department to come-up with a plan for safely staging the event.  But one-by-one those locations were eliminated, as one hurdle after another presented itself.

     "Johnny Shockey was ready to let us do a "drive-in theater" style fireworks show at his Big Mountain Ranch," Gartland said. "Then we found out that the pasture can't be hayed until a week or two after the Fourth, so that was out.

    "Our last -- and best -- option was Smith Fields (by North Valley Hospital)," he added, "and we actually had a plan OK'd by the county, the Police Department and the hospital to do the show.  Unfortunately, several big dollar donors didn't like the idea, and opted not to support the show unless it was held on Whitefish Lake."

     Gartland thanked City and County officials for their assistance in trying to keep the community's longstanding July 4 tradition alive, and pledged that the event will be back in 2021, "bigger and better than ever."

Ad deadline is June 29 ... call today!
FishBIZ returns with
Summer 2020 edition

     After taking a three-month "COVID Holiday," FishBIZ -- the Chamber's quarterly business news magazine -- returns next month with an edition focusing on what's in store for Whitefish this summer ... and beyond!

      On the Chamber side, fireworks are cancelled ... but Huckleberry Days is a definitely "go."  Our monthly Gone Fishin' after-hours events will get rolling again in July, the Visitor Center is back up-and-running, and we're already working on plans for Oktoberfest, Ladies Night Out and the Christmas Stroll.

So what's new with you?  Let us know ... we'll spread the word!
     The only thing constant is change, and the changes have certainly been constant the last three months.  So email  kevin@whitefishchamber.org and let me know what's new, fun and exciting in your world, and we'll include your Member Updates in FishBIZ.

     Display advertising in FishBIZ is a great way to get your message directly into the hands of more than 1,000 local business owners and managers, and it's affordable ... just $125 for a quarter-page ad, $200 for a half-page or $350 for a full-page, full-color ad.

     If you're interested in advertising your business, an upcoming event, a summertime sale or special "member-to-member" discount, hit me with an email or call the Chamber office at 862-3501.  But do it quick ... the ad deadline is Monday June 29!    
Apply online at www.covidrelief.mt.gov
State launches new 'loan deferment' program
to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19

    A new loan deferment program was unveiled by the State of Montana this week, in an effort to assist Montana businesses that've been impacted by COVID-19.

     The Montana Loan Deferment Program  allows businesses to delay payments on existing loans for 6-12 months, thereby freeing-up a significant amount of capital for the borrower to leverage on a monthly basis.  If a borrower is approved for the program, Coronavirus relief funds will be used to provide payments to participating lenders to cover interest payments for 6-12 months, up to 6 percent or $150,000.

     Gov. Steve Bullock has allocated $125 million to the program, with $25 million specifically earmarked for hotels and restaurants and the remaining $100 million dedicated to other eligible borrowers.  The program could help defer between 5,000 and 10,000 loans, and help provide some long-term stability for businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis..

Who's eligible, and how to apply
     To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a 25 percent reduction in gross revenue due to COVID-19. The borrower must also not have access to 12 months of working capital from any other source, and be actively registered with the Secretary of State to do business in Montana. The full eligibility criteria are available at  www.covidrelief.mt.gov.  

     The program will be jointly administered by the Board of Investments and the Department of Revenue.  Borrowers will apply through their existing lender, which will submit the application to the Board of Investments and Revenue for review and payment if approved.  Recipients will be listed on the transparency website that is updated weekly.

Getting a handle on summer reservations
CVB polls local lodgers as summer approaches

     In order to better understand the current status of summer visitation and the effect that COVID-19 has had on our tourist-based economy, the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking local lodging properties to take 5 minutes and complete a quick, anonymous survey.

     The information collected will be aggregated and shared with local lodging properties, the media and elected officials.  Individual lodgers' responses (and identities) will not be shared.
CLICK HERE to take this simple 5-question survey today ... responses are requested by 5 p.m. this afternoon!
Montana Chamber survey needs your input!
How concerned are  you about COVID lawsuits?

     Your business is finally up-and-operating, consumer confidence is rebuilding, and our summer visitors are back.  Things are looking up!   But have you thought about your liability as a business owner in our new, COVID-colored "normal?"  What is preventing you from being sued for a COVID-related incident in your workplace?

     Unlike many other states, Montana has not yet clarified liability protections specific to this public health crisis, and how Montana employers will be affected.  The Montana Chamber of Commerce is asking for your help as they work to protect local businesses like yours from a potentially devastating COVID-19 lawsuit.

      CLICK HERE to take the Chamber's two-minute survey, and help us help you!
Whitefish Chamber of Commerce | P.O. Box 1120, 505 E. Second Street
Whitefish, MT 59937 | (406) 862-3501 |   whitefishchamber.org
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