As businesses shutter their doors in an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading, Downtown Chambersburg Inc. is opening avenues to countless resources so retailers and restaurants can stay afloat.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all nonlife-sustaining businesses in the state to close their physical locations by 8 a.m. March 23 in an effort to stem the tide of COVID-19’s growth. Grocery stores, gas stations, auto-parts stores, banks, health care facilities, laundromats and social-assistance services are allowed to keep their doors open, and restaurants are permitted to continue filling takeout, delivery and drive-through orders. In extenuating circumstances, exemptions will be granted to businesses aiding health care providers.
With many area residents spending more time indoors, the internet has become a vital source of information about restrictions and closures required by federal, state and local government agencies. DCI is using social media to keep people up-to-date not only about what they should not be doing, but what opportunities are available to keep them healthy, socially engaged and connected with the merchants whose services they need and/or enjoy.
Mikey’s Mini Donuts took the bold move of opening a new shop March 18 at 21 N. Main St. in Chambersburg, right in the midst of a worldwide health crisis. That determination helps fuel the upward trajectory that downtown Chambersburg has been on since the beginning of the year, as six new businesses have brought storefronts to life. Another - Sweet Rollers, a bakery focused on fundraising that specializes in cinnamon rolls - is close to being ready for walk-in traffic.
DCI’s website features a link to the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resource center (www.chambersburg.org/covid19), which offers health updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; numerous options for business owners to determine if they are eligible to be deemed life-sustaining or request a waiver from being forced to close temporarily; tips for employers to keep their workers and patrons safe; requirements outlined by the Families First Coronavirus Act for providing paid sick leave and tax credits to cover the costs; and so much more.
DCI created a page on its website dedicated to ways people can continue to support downtown businesses. Go to www.downtownchambersburgpa.com/shop-safe-shop-downtown-covid19 for remote shopping options, gift cards and so much more. Also new to the DCI website (www.downtownchambersburgpa.com) is a list of businesses accepting online orders. You’ll find it under the “explore” tab. In addition, if you go to the “about” tab, you will find COVID-19 business resources for local retailers.
The Downtown Chambersburg Business & Stakeholders Group on Facebook gives downtown merchants and property owners a positive forum for sharing ideas, concerns and questions, and keeps them abreast of upcoming events and programs. The closed group also offers tips from countless sources on how small businesses can survive the impact of the coronavirus.
If you want to know which of your favorite eateries is offering takeout, go to Chambersburg Takeout Blitz on Facebook. The group was created by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce so restaurant owners can inform area residents about what they have to offer and give patrons a chance to share comments about food delivered right to their doors.
DCI is working on a gift card program to entice area residents to make purchases in the future from area businesses, who are eager to get back to engaging with their patrons face to face.
Downtown Chambersburg is a crossroads where art and diversity unite,
local food and diverse international cuisine combine,
new ideas and traditional values converge, and vibrant and healthy lifestyles abound. The mission of the organization I lead is to drive economic development through business recruitment and retention, and to administer programs that positively affect the look, feel and perception of Main Street to attract investment. It is our top priority to help downtown business and property owners weather this ever-shifting storm.
If you want more information about how you can help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717-264-7101, ext. 204.
Downtown Chambersburg Inc.