SPRINGFIELD, PA – During the COVID-19 pandemic, information and protocols were constantly changing. Throughout this difficult time, local businesses in knew they could rely on the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and the Bringing Back Delco Task Force for support. Whether providing important information, distributing PPE, or encouraging residents to shop local, the Chamber and Bringing Back Delco worked hard to help Delco businesses stay healthy – literally and figuratively.
Bringing Back Delco: One Year Later
The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce has always worked to unite the business community, as a voice, a resource, a place to connect with one another and grow.
In 2020, the goal stayed the same and the Chamber became the primary resource in Delaware County to both Chamber members and non-alike. As the initial shutdowns happened one year ago, the Chamber took the lead by sharing information being passed down from Governor Wolf’s Office to the local business community.
The Chamber advocated for industries to be on the “Essential Business List” and partnered with County Council for the first of many virtual meetings with the Small Business Administration, the Department of Labor and the Commerce Center with over 600 attendees.
“This past year has transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. As we embrace what normal is, we look forward to new initiatives and more opportunities to grow business. The Chamber will remain a constant as we move on and help build our businesses to be stronger than before,” says Trish McFarland, Chamber President.
Bringing Back Delco Task Force
The Chamber gathered, consolidated, and shared information pertinent to the pandemic. Whether there was a change in legislation surrounding COVID business funding, a new program or mitigation effort, the Chamber continues to be up to date on this information.
Partnering with County Council, the Commerce Center and key stakeholders in the county, the Bringing Back Delco Task Force was created to share the best information for businesses to guide and assist each other with the resources available.
During each phase of the lockdown (red, yellow, and green) the Chamber can proudly say that they did not stand by idly while businesses were in need.
COVID-Related Public Events & Meetings
Connecting people in Delaware County is the heart of the Chamber’s work. During the pandemic, the Chamber coordinated numerous, invaluable events and meetings to help Delco businesses stay informed and to find order within the chaos. Many of these events featured experts to help provide clarification to the rapidly shifting rules and expectations.
Since March 2020, the Chamber has convened:
• 51 Public events and meetings directly related to COVID, with triple that number of behind-the-scenes meetings.
• During the initial difficult days of the pandemic, light-hearted events such as Monday Motivation and Business Tip Tuesday helped businesses stay positive and focus on their business even if their operations were closed.
• salons and childcare centers to help them share ideas with one another and assist their needs.
• Monthly Business Owners Group meetings, an original committee of the Chamber, but continued virtually throughout this past year to keep business owners connected and learning from one another.
• Monthly Government Affairs Committee, another original Chamber committee, keeps members up to date of potential legislation affecting businesses.
These events and meetings were in addition to the Chamber’s other usual, non-COVID related Chamber virtual activities. All virtual events brought together many business leaders to help our economy continue to thrive. The Chamber & Task Force had to focus on re-opening Delco!
“The COVID 19 pandemic brought an unheard amount of stress for many nonprofit and business leaders. While the state issued mandate after mandate, it was very difficult to keep track of what measures we had to take, when we could reopen, and what precautions were needed to do so safely and correctly. The Delco Chamber was the answer- their up to date (almost minute by minute) information of new mitigations helped our business steer the course towards reopening. Their many forums and webinars educating us and LISTENING to our needs gave confidence that we were on the right track. Their work to ensure businesses had the PPE supplies we needed was exceptional. The best part is this help was available to ALL businesses regardless of membership- as a result, we became a proud member of the Chamber,” shared Darlington Arts Center Executive Director, Eric Thompson.
Once businesses were hit from being closed for some time and PPE supply costs were not only inflated, but some were impossible to obtain, the Chamber distributed a total of 2,250 PPE kits for businesses funded by County Council over six days.
These kits varied depending on the distribution day and some were specific to childcare. The kits included up to a gallon of hand sanitizer, 150-500 wipes, 200 gloves, face masks, floor signs, forehead thermometers, infant gowns, face shields, disinfectant spray, paper towels, hand soap and more.
The Chamber also added a section to its website for members to note if they were selling PPE supplies to help businesses get supplies faster and shop locally.
During the first shutdown of “Essential Business Only” the Chamber website displayed an interactive ‘Take-Out Map’ showcasing over 200 restaurants while indoor dining was prohibited. Restaurants could add themselves to the map with their address, website, phone number and pickup/delivery protocols. The Chamber website became a popular resource and website traffic doubled, giving these restaurants valuable exposure and marketing for FREE.
“Pinocchio's would like to thank the Chamber of Commerce for creating a map of open restaurants during this time of need.” said Athena, Tim and Ted Volikas, Part-Owners of Pinocchio’s Restaurant. “Local restaurants like us are grateful for their support.”
Once the holiday season began to surface, the Chamber worked with County Council on the “Keep the Cheer Here – Shop Delco” campaign. Another interactive map with more than 160 businesses was created for the website to highlight retailer businesses for the holiday season. The general public was reminded to shop local during the holiday season and if they showed up doing it on social media, they were entered to win in the ‘Keep the Cheer Here’ Contest. Shoppers could enter for a chance to win local gift cards just by posting where they were shopping with the hashtag ‘Shop Delco’. About 100 gift cards were distributed via mail to the winners. Over visitors came to the Chamber site in November and December. This was another promotion for Delco businesses, free of charge!
“Our company has been a member of the Delco Chamber for many years. Unlike many other organizations, the Chamber (and for our purposes, specifically Jessica Hoffman) went above and beyond with up-to-date information, webinars, and phone calls to help me navigate the Covid nightmare from the beginning! She put me in touch with Bill Pearce from SCORE who was an invaluable resource and who helped me sift through the programs that were being offered to us and make the right choices. The Chamber made this extremely difficult and anxious year so much easier and productive for Devine Occasions and me. I will be forever grateful,” catering business owner, Margie Devine, Devine Occasions.
What Does the Chamber Really Do?
An unprecedented global health pandemic did not stop the Chamber team down from remaining committed to its core mission of serving as a resource hub for businesses and promoting growth and stability. In the past year, the Chamber has:
• Assisted more than 2,000 business through pandemic relief efforts.
• Attracted 71,000+ visitors to use the Chamber site as a vital resource.
• Hosted 90+ virtual events.
• Created a Business & Economic Equity Committee
• Tracked & advocated 937 legislative bills for business.
• Gained 74 new members.
• Added 350+ businesses to the Shop/Eat Delco Maps.
• Distributed 2,250 PPE kits to local businesses in six days.
• Attracted 2,500+ to follow the Chamber as a resource on social media.
• Hosted 12 ribbon cuttings for new businesses.
• 1,200+ recorded event views on YouTube.
THIS. This is what being a Chamber Member pays for. Some might even say a best kept secret for your business is to sign up for a Chamber Membership as a launch-pad for your business. If your business managed to hang on tight through 2020, it is time to Drive Your Business Forward in 2021 with the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.
Learn more at www.delcochamber.org/why-join