Now is the Time for Bold, Locally Led Action

We need to get creative.

We are living through an incredibly stressful and unpredictable moment in history. The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has swept across the globe, causing a humanitarian crisis and an unfolding economic fallout. Health professionals are fighting to save as many people as possible, and shelter-in-place and self-isolation tactics are quickly becoming the new normal. While these extraordinary actions will hopefully starve out the virus, these actions will also starve the economy.

We know that many families and businesses are experiencing and will continue to experience economic pain as a result of this pandemic. During this crisis, many companies, especially small businesses, are at serious risk of going under – and all businesses are facing a difficult and challenging situation.

We have not experienced a disaster on this scale since World War II. There is no escaping to temporary geographic safety and there is no quick economic bounce-back coming. The mounting economic challenges are a threat to our community and our local economy. During an indefinite period of social distancing, closed shops, working from home and taking it one day at a time, it is easy to feel powerless.

That is why now, more than ever, we need to rise to the challenge as a community.

We are not powerless, and now is a time for bold, locally led action. Our immediate orders are clear: To protect our community, we need to work together and get creative. We need innovative and unique solutions to urgent logistical, supply chain, employment and humanitarian challenges. It is our only option.

This creativity is already on display and growing. Local companies have begun retooling and refocusing their efforts to address gaps in the supply chain, producing tents, sneeze guards, masks and hand sanitizer. Efforts to organize volunteers and philanthropic donations have come online quickly and with generous support. TBAISD and TCAPS are working to provide meals for children and childcare for medical professionals and first responders. Key nonprofit, education and government agencies are meeting together daily to solve problems and provide accurate and unified communication to the community.

Traverse Connect is working with business and employer organizations across the community, including Networks Northwest, the Manufacturing Council, TCNewTech and others to find creative solutions to our economic challenges. To protect our economy for the long-term and grow family-sustaining careers post-crisis we are fighting to save as many jobs as possible right now by helping businesses to stay afloat and protect their employees.

We are collecting and sharing best practices for the immediate crisis, creative problem-solving for staffing, remote work, cash flow and business interruption planning. We have organized industry-specific communications channels to both distribute critical information and collect detailed industry feedback. This community is marshaling its incredible manufacturing knowledge and know-how to address Munson’s supply needs.

Policymakers are under pressure to get creative as well. There is a complex array of new laws, executive orders and regulations covering everything from store closures to paid leave and unemployment benefits. We are providing near-daily updates to help employers interpret the new rules, access new state and federal loan programs and understand what this means to you, your business and your employees.

We need everyone’s creative input and resourcefulness to protect our community now, build economic resilience and ensure a bright future on the other side of this crisis. My call to action: Brainstorm, share ideas, ask questions and get creative. Stay healthy and follow the social-distancing guidelines to protect your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers … but also prepare to roll up your sleeves and get to work. We can develop and implement creative home-grown solutions to these challenges and pull together as a region (from a distance of six feet or more).

Warren Call is the president/CEO of Traverse Connect, a regional economic development organization that includes the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and Venture North. Contact him at warren.call@traverseconnect.org.

 

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