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Chamber seeks business feedback, webinars offer helpful info

As many local retailers, restaurants and service providers remain closed or are operating differently under state-mandated restrictions, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce is looking for feedback from the business community about moving forward.

To help get a broader sense of where the local business community stands currently, the Chamber has put together a brief nine-question survey, which can be accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/r/VHFJBT3. The survey is a chance to offer feedback on the impacts local businesses are experiencing, their success in receiving funding though state and federal relief programs and what the Chamber can do to help.

“We’re trying to figure out the best direction we can go to help our businesses and really what the business climate is right now,” said WBCC Executive Director Catherine Glover. “We thought if we asked some specific questions, like ‘What has worked for you?’ and ‘Where do you see the future of the business?’ we can start projecting at the Chamber how we can better assist them. That way, we can take it to our state legislators and the federal people who represent us.”

Last week, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper extended the statewide stay-at-home order through May 8, and laid out a timetable for a phased reopening of businesses and services throughout the state. Under that timetable, however, it could still be late May before some businesses, such as restaurants, bars, fitness centers and salons could reopen.

“I hope that (Cooper) announces Phase One on May 8, but we don’t know that yet,” Glover said. “Then it could be two weeks, if everything goes well. Phase Two is the one that affects the majority of our businesses. Some can open in Phase One, and then all of them in Phase Two, pretty much, if it’s with limited people. They’re just trying to figure out exactly what the plan is.”

Helping local businesses with their plans is the goal of the Chamber, along with the Beaufort County Community College Small Business Center and others. Later this week, both the Chamber and SBC will host a pair of helpful webinars for business owners.

The first, on Wednesday at 11 a.m., is a seminar hosted by the SBC entitled “Get the FAQ: What You Really Need to Know about the SBA, EIDL and PPP.” That conference will feature area SBA managers who can answer questions about Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program. Participants must register at www.ncsbc.net to receive the webinar link and can also browse other upcoming free BCCC SBC seminars at the same address.

Then on Thursday, the Chamber will host its second in a series of “Zoom with us!” meetings beginning at 1:30 p.m. Elizabeth Robinson, with the NC Retail Merchants Association, will discuss retail trends and how businesses can safely reopen in Beaufort County.

Those wishing to participate in that webinar should RSVP to Glover at cglover@wbcchamber.com. The meeting can be accessed via www.zoom.com, with the meeting ID 818 1123 0604. The password is 735431. Additional resources for local businesses can be found at wbcchamber.com.