Elaine Spalding: Rowan in prime location to recover from COVID-19 crisis
By Elaine Spalding
Rowan County Chamber of Commerce
One of my mentors in the Chamber of Commerce industry used to say, “Chambers do what most people think just happens.”
Most people think chambers of commerce just do ribbon cuttings and networking events. However, during challenging times like we are facing now, the real value of “strength in numbers” and working together with our community partners really matters.
We are the largest business advocacy organization in Rowan County. We advocate for our business community at the local, state and federal levels. We are lobbying hard for COVID-19 business relief packages with elected officials and government agencies. We have an active board of directors and wonderful committee volunteers. We represent 824 member businesses with over 20,000 employees.
Know that the health and safety of our citizens is the top priority. Our elected officials have shown great leadership and compassion. Our education sector is doing amazing things to keep students learning. Our health care and emergency service professionals are well organized and have a plan. We appreciate their dedication and bravery, especially our 2020 Chair of the Board Gary Blabon, president of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.
Once we have dealt with containing the virus, we’ll need to focus on our economy.
It breaks my heart to hear the stories from our small businesses owners about having to temporarily close their doors and lay people off. However, we couldn’t be in a better location to recover quickly from this crisis. We have Food Lion’s corporate headquarters and numerous manufacturing and distribution companies who are hiring. And they utilize I-85 to transport products and services. God bless the truckers!
The Chamber, Rowan Economic Development Commission and Rowan Tourism Development Authority have formed a strong coalition for problem solving and crisis communications, including a COVID-19 community resource web page. The United Way and the Salisbury Post have stepped up in a big way to help displaced workers. Please give!
I am very proud of our chamber staff and would like to express my sincere appreciation to Erica Church, Sharon Hughey and Tina Jamison-Cowan. We have received very positive feedback on our communication with members. There are numerous resources available now and more on the way. It can be overwhelming to decide what’s right for every business. Contact the Chamber and we’ll point you in the right direction.
My husband is always saying that I look at the bright side of every situation. We know we are going to get through this time. We know that major employers are still hiring and will provide additional training for people who have lost their jobs. We know that some bright creative entrepreneurs will develop new technologies during this crisis.
What can you do to help? Remember to buy local – gift cards, to-go orders, vendor contracts, professional services and local firms with online stores.
Here are some other ways you can help:
- Pick up the phone and call your favorite business owner/manager. Ask what’s keeping them awake at night?
- Contact federal, state and local elected officials. Thank them for their support to date, encourage them to continue their business and worker support and give them specific examples that they can use to help tell our story better.
- Please fill out the 2020 census. Our population numbers will determine funding in the future.
Elaine Spalding is president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.