As the B.C. economy gets ready to reopen, both the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce and the Cloverdale BIA are taking steps to help businesses get going again.
Scott Wheatley, the executive director for the Chamber, said the organization is launching a two-fold response for businesses needs.
The first response will consist of two webinars. The first one is on May 14 and is called, “How to make the most of getting back to business: The 7 P’s to a Resilient & Prosperous Recovery.” The event will be hosted by business consultant Tony Malyk.
Wheatley said the first webinar will answer the question, “Do you know how you are going to get back to business?”
The second webinar is set for May 22 and is called “Getting Back to Business” and is part of the Chamber’s online outreach webinars.
“This is a return engagement of Tamara Jansen, Marvin Hunt, Stephanie Cadieux, Linda Annis, and Allison Patton,” Wheatley said. “The focus on this session is on the recovery mode and people can submit questions in advance.”
The second part of the Chamber’s outreach plan involves working with other organizations to aid businesses in economic recovery.
“We are also part of a working group that consists of the BIA’s in Surrey and White Rock, the SSWR Chamber of Commerce, and Surrey Board of Trade,” explained Wheatley. “The aim of this group is to work with the cities to represent the interests of businesses in Surrey and White Rock.”
That group is called the Surrey Economic Recovery Coalition (SERC).
Wheatley said some businesses are facing significant hurdles as they get set to reopen.
“I know some of the retail and service companies have had a real struggle. Others are primed and ready to restart,” he said.
“Recovery will be a long term process. For example, with restaurants only being allowed to be open to half capacity that means not all staff will be rehired.”
Wheatley said SERC meets every Friday with the City of Surrey.
“Last Friday, I brought up the relaxation of rules allowing restaurants and other retailers to push out onto sidewalks, etc., to give them more capacity to deal with social distancing.”
Meanwhile, Paul Orazietti, said the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association (also a part of SERC) is approaching the coming economic restart in a multi-pronged way.
“We are asking our members to complete a follow-up City of Surrey COVID survey,” said said Orazietti, executive director of the Cloverdale BIA.
Orazietti added the BIA is continuing to provide detailed guides on how businesses can prepare to reopen.
“The BIA is also starting to work with the other Surrey BIAs on some form of a local Digital Main Street program.” (Digital Main Street is a highly successful BIA initiative out of Toronto that helps businesses transform digitally; Orazietti wants to replicate that here.)
“The idea is to improve business websites, SEO, and to get them more active on social media.”
Orazietti noted SERC members are creating a lot of local content on social media in order to promote their business, engage and inform the customer about what is happening, and to share positive stories that have arisen during the COVID crisis.
“We are continuing to support a local ‘We’re Open/Shop Local’ campaign with the Cloverdale Reporter.”
Orazietti said the BIA is distributing posters for a new Surrey RCMP business monitoring campaign. He said they are working with the City to tackle the increased rate of homelessness in Cloverdale. And he said they are also looking at ways to help out as increased mental health issues and substance abuse issues arise because of the pandemic.
Although Orazietti is hopeful as the economic restart begins, he sees the biggest problem coming from a resurgence of the virus.
“The biggest hurdle is to initiate the restart but to avoid any second wave contact of the virus,” he explained. “People have to be very diligent about all of the precautions when going out in public and to continue social distancing. It will take longer than you are used to when you go out for a service or to shop.”
He said an unknown that is very concerning is the number of businesses that will not survive, even after the restart begins.
Orazietti added that he has seen some positives around Cloverdale in the form of businesses undergoing renovations.
“Construction is still underway on some new building projects that started prior to the pandemic,” he said. “Kudos to the Cloverdale Community Kitchen for outstanding community service with their Cloverdale Community Kitchen Mobile Meals.”
Orazietti noted the BIA and the City are also looking at phase-2 for the BIA’s Cloverdale improvement plans, most notably the King Street parking lot and alley improvements.
“We recently met with the Vancouver Mural Art Festival to discuss a proposal.”
Details for the webinars can be found on the Chamber’s website at cloverdalechamber.ca.
Details for the BIA’s initiatives can be found by visiting cloverdalebia.com.