To our valued members,
As I am sure many of you are feeling, this has been a week of ups and downs when it comes to digesting and filtering through much of the information regarding Coronavirus. Some feel a sense of panic, some feel a sense of this all being hysteria, some feel they have control of the situation with their own personal habits and accountability. None of those feelings are wrong and I think it’s important to be respectful of everyone’s personal reactions to this as we can’t be aware of perhaps the loved ones in their lives that could be affected adversely by this virus. Personally, as a healthy, but 35-weeks pregnant mother of a toddler, I have experienced all of these emotions in one week!
At the Chamber we are committed to supporting the Winter Haven business community through this uncertain time, providing resources and information based in fact and encouraging our residents to continue to invest locally. On our website we have provided links to important resources and encourage you to stay up-to-date with recommendations from the local, state and federal health department agencies. We are closely monitoring recommendations from the local municipal and county officials as well as the Polk County School Board.
As a non-profit organization, we have been fortunate that two of our major fundraisers have passed successfully, with so much of that due to your support. But other member non-profits are having to make the tough decision to cancel their largest fundraising events by recommendation of local and state officials, such as the Central Park Arts Festival with Ridge Art, Top Buttons Luncheon, and the Winter Haven Public Education Partnership “PEP” Rally. If you hear of this and are able, I implore you to make a donation to the non-profit. In times like this many things are beyond our control, but we can still be supportive of each other in many ways.
We have been collaborating with our March networking showcase host and have decided to cancel the Spring Fling Showcase to be hosted at Citizens Bank & Trust High Pointe Center next Thursday, March 19 in an abundance of caution. If you see Greg Littleton or any of the Citizens staff, please thank them for their continued support of Winter Haven’s business community.
We will continue to monitor the situation and make any other decisions regarding upcoming events as time passes. I want to assure you that I have both the best interest of our business community and its people at heart when making any of these decisions. You are all my family and I care about you and your loved ones deeply.
All of that being said, the economic impact of this time period could be great, and we want to encourage you to support your local businesses. Here are a few suggestions of ways to help:
-Don’t stop doing business. What do I mean by that? Can the meeting be a phone call instead (Hey, we’ve all seen the meme of “that meeting could have been an email” or a phone call, so why not start to practice that now). And if you are meeting in person, please remember that this isn’t the time to hug or handshake but you can implement these alternatives.
-Know that the majority of our businesses are very clean and many are taking extra precautions to ensure their customers know it and are assured. If you are healthy, continue to patronize businesses taking the recommended precautions to wash your hands often, not touch your face, carry your own sanitizing wipes/spray etc. AND spend your money locally.
-Please be supportive of your employees and encourage them to stay home if they are sick. If at all possible, offer paid sick leave. We will keep you notified as the federal and state government determine ways they can help you with this.
-Buy a gift card from a local business to use later. Or call ahead and purchase something you intended to anyway and pick it up later.
- If you can’t eat in, order take-out for pick up or delivery (don’t forget to tip!).
-If you are shopping online did you know that MANY of our local retailers, restaurants and grocers have online shops you can purchase directly from? Check that first.
-Don’t cancel your memberships and subscriptions to local gyms, music lessons, dance classes etc. Your continued support can literally save these small businesses through this time.
-Finally ask the owners or employees how you may be able to help their specific business during this time. Winter Haven is known for its authentic and neighborly attitude. We can get through this together!
Lastly, do not hesitate to call or email me directly if you need help or with ways we as a Chamber can help. My cell phone is 863-604-0982.
Katie Worthington Decker