In the mood for Chinese or tacos to-go? Is pet food on your shopping list? Maybe you’d like to buy a special jewelry gift or add a piece of clothing to your wardrobe to lift your spirits.
There’s no real “business as usual” amid the coronavirus, but LorainCountyStrong.com is giving locals a platform to get the word out about the services they can offer during the pandemic, whether it’s curbside pickup, delivery or safe shopping. Businesses can list their information, and residents can learn what’s open.
“When the stay-at-home order came online, we knew we needed to do something to promote businesses that would do take-out and provide businesses not used to working from home with some guidance on how to do that,” says Tony Gallo, president, Lorain County Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber partnered with Lorain County Community College (LCCC) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and reached out to the county’s five Main Street organizations — Amherst, Wellington, Lorain, Vermilion and Oberlin. The team also drafted other local chambers, including North Ridgeville and North Coast Regional Chamber of Commerce.
All told, 14 organizations came together to create LorainCountyStrong.com, a branding effort and community resource that promotes local businesses and provides local health updates. It also informs entrepreneurs about issues including personal protective equipment (PPE), and points them to sources for masks, gloves, disinfectant and other must-haves to operate during this unprecedented time.
“It’s not a concept we invented — as chambers we are collaborative about sharing information,” Gallo says. Though, LorainCountyStrong.com evolved beyond their initial expectations and is now a vehicle for fundraising to provide small business grants through its T-shirt sale.
“People are excited and want to support their communities and businesses,” says Lisa Hutson, SBDC director. “As a county, we all work very closely together, and we ultimately share the same goals.”
Hutson adds that LorainCountyStrong.com has helped raise awareness of the SBDC’s resources. “We still hear all the time that we are the best-kept secret, so a silver lining of this time is that a lot of people connected to us,” she says.
And, Hutson points out, “Even when there is not a pandemic, there are always fires that businesses need to put out.” LorainCountyStrong.com will continue to serve the community’s businesses and residents, pivoting to meet their needs. “This has really become its own brand,” Gallo says. “And that’s a good thing.”