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CBA Update: Summary from 3/17/20 CBA Leadership Council Meeting

MEMO TO CBA MEMBERSHIP
FROM: Katie Loovis, CBA Staff Support
DATE: Tuesday, March 17, 2020
SUBJECT: Summary from today's CBA Leadership Council 
Dear Carrboro Business Alliance (CBA) Members, 

Your CBA Leadership Council met this morning (via ZOOM video conference) with Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Town Manager David Andrews, and local philanthropist Tom Raynor. 

We discussed the rapidly changing state of play as it relates to COVID-19 and what the needs are of our local business community. Below is the update and next steps. 

Please scroll down and don't hesitate to call if you need anything,

Katie
Current Status and Pain Points:
  • The anxiety, fear, and worry is strong. Scenario planning now includes worst case scenario – massive shutdown for several weeks/month+.
  • Some businesses have temporarily closed (ex: Elmo’s); others remain open but down as much as 60% (retail, restaurants, and hotels) while others are up 20%-100% (hardware and grocery). Property owners and managers are speaking with tenants and bracing for impact.
  • Businesses that are open are obviously taking great hygiene and sanitation measures, adjusting hours and staffing schedules, furloughing employees, banking and sharing sick time, doing take-out/curbside only, and accelerating online efforts (ebay).   
  • Some businesses are advertising the health and safety steps they are taking through social media (tag @ForTheLoveOfCarrboro and @CarrboroBusinessAlliance) and posting customizable signs (download and customize here).  
  • Business owners are struggling to decide which bills to prioritize with limited funds; hustling to secure holds, extensions, or deferments on bills and loans; and wrestling through scenario plans of whether to stay open with adjustments or close.
  • Bottom line: Small business owners need capital, now, preferably 0% interest.

Top Questions/Requests: The following are the top questions/requests we are hearing (and we are running down answers for you):
I. For the Mayor, Council, and Town Manager:
  1. Please quickly adjust the small business low-interest loan program into a 0% interest emergency loan fund. Time is of the essence.  
  2. Is there anything that can be done to make the roads more clear and easy for businesses and customers to do curb-side pick-up/take-out?
  3. In your messaging, emphasize “double-down on local.”
II. For the Health Department:
  1. What happens if my employee tests positive for COVID-19? What does the health dept. do to my business?
III. For the Commerce and Labor Departments:
  1. How do my employees access unemployment benefits?  Is it better to lower the number of hours for my hourly workers or lay them off so they can access unemployment benefits? Are there other resources that I can share with my employee(s)?
IV. For the Chamber:
  1. How can I best help my employees (what resources – financial, physical and mental health, and otherwise - are available to them)?

Next steps: The CBA and Chamber leadership will continue to help us stay connected and share information, and we will run down answers to these questions. We need you all to keep us informed with what you are experiencing so we can continue to serve you. CBA Chair David Jessee may call another meeting of the CBA Leadership Council in the coming week or so depending on what we hear from you all as far as needs and interests.

Contact: Katie Loovis, CBA Staff Support, (919) 696-0781 (cell) or KLoovis@carolinachamber.org