This week marks the 12th week the Grand Rapids Chamber team has been working remotely. Like many businesses, our priorities have shifted over the last few months as we have adjusted to life with COVID-19.
For the Chamber team, meeting this adversity meant springing into action. In March, we started offering daily resource calls, working to keep information accurate and available to our members and local business leaders in a time where information was evolving rapidly. We transitioned many of our events to a virtual platform, allowing business leaders to continue connecting via Zoom.
In April, the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation announced its Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund. The fund delivers short-term financial support quickly, providing $5,000-10,000 grants for small businesses in Kent County with 5-25 full-time employees. The Chamber Foundation has also partnered with Chamber member Switch to offer the Frontline Food Fund. This fund supports local restaurants by purchasing individually-packaged meals to deliver to hospital and public safety departments, along with the hard-working environmental services teams.
Business Community Steps Up to Meet the Challenge
Businesses across every industry have been affected by COVID-19 in a variety of ways, and we have seen our members pivot and step up to the challenge.
After the initial Stay Home order, Rockford Construction, like many others, saw their construction projects take about a 50% hit, with many projects not deemed essential. As they worked to serve their residential and commercial tenants, they did their best to provide positive resources to keep tenants connected and focused on their wellbeing. With blog posts highlighting tips for stay-at-home wellness, curated lists of home entertainment ideas, and virtual events like online yoga classes and virtual happy hours, they did their part to move forward as a Rockford community.
Companies quickly transitioned to remote work, offering many of their services virtually. Restaurants shifted to no-contact delivery and curbside pickup. Manufacturers started producing masks, gloves and PPE equipment. Breweries and distilleries, including New Holland Brewing Company, Atwater, and The Mitten, shifted their processes to produce hand sanitizer. Companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Horizon Bank, and Meijer made substantial donations to support our community’s vulnerable populations. And of course, our heroes in health care, transportation, grocery, and sanitation continued working the front lines.
These are just a few of the ways our business community has risen to these unique challenges.
We know West Michigan is a resilient and resourceful community. The Grand Rapids Chamber remains confident that our collaborative spirit, along with the work ethic of West Michigan, will guide us into a brighter future together.