Banding together for the common good of our community
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Our community, our state, our nation and our world have been forever changed in a short time due to COVID-19. As I write this article, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced a stay-at-home order for the 13 million residents of the State of Illinois. Locally, this last week has been difficult for most of us as we struggle to understand how to handle new and uncomfortable restraints associated with educating our children, socializing with our family and friends, eating our meals, completing our work and so much more.
For some, it may be hard to reconcile the loss of local business due to a virus that has not yet had one confirmed case in Morgan or Scott counties. However, as we watch the number of confirmed cases – and the death toll – rise throughout Illinois, a rigid course of action must be implemented immediately to maintain the health of our local communities. As one of the speakers during Gov. Pritzker’s press conference pointed out during Friday afternoon’s press conference, a successful order to stay at home should feel like it was unnecessary because the overall outcome of the exercise keeps the negative effects to the population at a minimum.
As the owner of a small business myself, I realize the consequences of COVID-19 on our local communities may be devastating to many of our small businesses. Difficult decisions will be made that will have lasting impacts. Those decisions will affect the people who rely on that business for their livelihood, and it will extend to the overall economic strength of our communities. However, just as defining moments in history have made our country stronger, I believe in time we will be able to identify ways in which this pandemic has shown us how we were adequately prepared for economic shock and ways in which we need to be better prepared for future incidents.
Economic development organizations have important roles to play in building the economic resilience in its region. “Steady-state” initiatives are long-term efforts to ensure the region can withstand or avoid a shock to its economy. “Responsive” initiatives include establishing ways to be responsive to the region’s recovery following the incident.
A couple of months ago, our community was celebrating the “Hometown Takeover” audition video produced by a few of us who work together to strengthen the Jacksonville region. It is that collaborative spirit that can be viewed as a “steady-state” initiative in building community pride and bringing together various groups for the benefit of our region. A much broader group of community members integral to the health and safety of our community are banding together to bolster “responsive” initiatives.
The directors of the Morgan County Health Department and Emergency Services agencies, the leaders of Passavant Area Hospital, the mayors of our local municipalities, county administrators and heads of local community organizations are working together to bring forth initiatives that will aid in the economic resiliency of our communities. Their efforts include economic responsive initiatives like establishing a process for regular communication, monitoring, and updating the business community of needs and issues during this pandemic.
Local, regional, statewide and national resources for small business owners are being collected and communicated by several entities in this area. The digital age has helped us disseminate these resources more readily than ever. In fact, you can access a number of resources ranging from federal Small Business Administration loans to a list of frequently asked questions provided by Jacksonville District 117 on the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation website: http://www.jredc.org/covid-19-resources.
Take solace in the fact that our federal, state and local governments are examining every opportunity to help small business succeed. Even though we have been ordered to stay home until April 7, please consider ways in which you can continue to assist your local businesses. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce points out, there are many ways to be supportive: order from local bars and restaurants through delivery services, to-go or curbside pickup; purchase gift cards from small businesses to be used in the future; follow your favorite local businesses online and via social media; shop small business websites when possible; continue your memberships and services that are offered online; and say thank you to the many business owners who are risking their health to provide us important services and products.
During his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln eloquently described this concept that we, as a community and as a society, must band together for the common good:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Kristin Jamison, President
Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation
Published in The Source (March 26, 2020)