We're here to help. The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is deeply concerned for the well-being of our member businesses, their employees and their families. While we have closed our office to the public as recommended, we are very much still here to serve each and every one of you.
At this time we can best serve as a vehicle for information that will help local businesses and residents find the services they may need while also providing important links to resources that can assist businesses during these unprecedented times. Thanks to the hard work and diligence of Lisa Davol, our website is constantly being updated with important information. Please visit frequently to stay current with information about how local businesses are adapting to the COVID-19 situation . And please let us know if there is a message your business would like to get out to the public, we are happy to help with that.
I am staying in touch with local officials and legislators about various programs and relief efforts that will be helpful to both businesses and individuals. I am also here to serve as a voice for our business. If your business has specific needs at this time that I can help relay to legislators please let me know. I have been able to do that for several businesses already and I can tell you that our local delegation is ready and willing to listen and help.
I have had the chance to speak with many business owners over the last few days. While there is certainly some fear and uncertainty out there, I also hear determination and resilience in their voices. I am endlessly impressed by small business owners who are working tirelessly to retain their employees or trying to creatively adapt their business to allow them to continue to serve their customers under difficult circumstances. I am respectful of those businesses that have made the difficult decision to close temporarily. We see you, we appreciate you, we support you.
Marian, Lisa and I remain readily available to help you. We are working to keep our Chamber programming going as best we can. At this time, we will still offer information on the importance of the Federal Census via a Facebook Live video featuring Representative Paul Mark, please watch for details on that soon. We will make determinations about April programming soon. We hesitate to cancel our events too far out due to an abundance of optimism.
We want to recognize the efforts of so many who have been called upon to respond during this crisis. Healthcare workers and first responders who are putting themselves in harms way to make sure that we are cared for. Truck drivers and grocery store employees who are working countless hours under trying circumstances to make sure the rest of us have the food and supplies we need. Public health officials and elected leaders who are working tirelessly to communicate important information in a timely and responsible manner. Social workers and social service agency employees who are looking after the most vulnerable among us. Teachers who have had the rug pulled out from under their feet but are finding creative ways to keep their students engaged and learning. All of you are amazing. You are our heroes. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
In closing, we urge all of you to follow the recommendations from our State and Federal leaders in an effort to reduce both the impact and longevity of the COVID-19 situation. Stay healthy, care for your loved ones, help a friend or neighbor, and know that better days are ahead.
Below are some helpful resources we have compiled
NEW: MA Small Biz COVID Response Coalition - Business Impact Survey
As the virus continues to unfold and with the passing of the CARES Act and federal stimulus package solidified for small business recovery, we want to know if our businesses have access to the information they need; if these new resources are effectively getting to our business community; and if they are adequately meeting your needs. Please take 5 minutes to help us better understand the needs as you are experiencing them and ideas for coordinated solution making that could be helpful. Also, please feel free to share this survey with others in your network as we gather as much information as possible.
*The Small Business Coalition is a working group of state, regional, and local organizations and leaders collaborating to support the business ecosystem across Massachusetts.
Spanish Link: survey link
English survey link
A report of findings from the Impact of COVID-19: Pioneer Valley Business and Organization Survey has been completed. We received 284 responses from Pioneer Valley based businesses and organizations. The report provides data at the 3-county aggregate level as well as broken out by county in the appendix. The report is posted at https://frcog.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Impact-of-COVID-Survey-Report-04.03.20-final.pdf.
Designed to help small businesses keep their workforce employed. The new loan program will be available retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020.
Loans available for farms affected by COVID-19. CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), in collaboration with the FCCDC (Franklin County Community Development Corporation) and the PVGrows Investment Fund, announced today that its revolving Emergency Farm Fund is reopening on April 1st to aid Pioneer Valley farms that have been affected by COVID-19. Read more
Teri Anderson, FHCC Director, wants you to know that the Career Center is helping people to file an unemployment claim if they are unable to use the State’s online system. FHCC knows that many people in our region don’t have access to a computer or the internet. FHCC is able to help them over the phone. The State’s virtual call center is not quite operational yet.
Eversource is taking measures to alleviate any financial concerns its customers may face: Suspending customer disconnections for nonpayment, assisting customers with financial programs, such as setting up a payment plan, reminding customers to download the mobile app which allows customers to check their account, pay their bill and much more at their convenience
Main Street Initiative Offering $2,000 Zero Interest Cash Infusion to Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19MainVest Inc. announces phase one of the Main Street Initiative. Starting March 17th, they are offering a $2,000 zero-interest cash infusion to small businesses affected by coronavirus closures, in conjunction with fundraising campaigns to help businesses receive investment from their supporting communities. Learn more at mainvest.com/blog/MSI.
Greenfield Co-operative Bank Announces New Payment Option for Customers as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) issues people are facing.
Michael E. Tucker, President & CEO of Greenfield Co-operative Bank and its Northampton Cooperative Bank division, was pleased to announce that our community bank board has approved a program to provide a “Payment Holiday” for existing GCB customers who have a portfolio loan at GCB to defer making their monthly payments coming up in April and May for up to 60 days. For eligible customers who wish to “Opt In”, there will be a simple form to complete. The payments usually due for April and May would simply be added to the back end of the loan term. Customers would then not have to make those payments until the end of the original term. The term would be extended 2 months to allow those payments to be made at the end of the original term. Click here for the Payment Holiday Agreement Form
To support small businesses in western Massachusetts during this unprecedented time, Common Capital and the Franklin County CDC are working together to provide assistance to businesses affected by COVID-19.
One of the state's primary tools to help small businesses avoid layoffs during a downturn. Offers an alternative to layoffs. Employees work reduced hours while collecting unemployment benefits to supplement their lower wages. Please feel free to share information about this resource with other employers. More information can be found here. "
The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
The Community Foundation of Western MA has started a fund to help with urgent and longer-term needs.
Available to grassroots groups. Up to $1,000. Grant applications must respond to a challenge or need in communities as a result of the COVID19 outbreak.