Fellow St. Johns County residents:
“It was an emotional day for me,” said one of my staff members at St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. “I was not ready for hearing the fear in their voices.”
She was referring to the calls she made to our members and many local business owners facing COVID-19 circumstances. “Not ready” is how many of the business owners felt and how we all agreed at the time. How could we have been prepared for this? There is no roadmap. Even the business planners who had their emergency plans perfectly organized realized those scenarios were not relevant.
I appreciate the unprecedented difficulty our business members are facing. The entire Chamber Board and staff members understand the sudden abrupt stop that was put on business activity without any warning while companies were thriving and entering a promising tourism and spring season. Whether you poured all your life savings into a business start-up or you’ve been running an established operation for years, the shock is there.
During a crisis, some businesses find themselves in a hot bed of innovation, and others have to temporarily or permanently close due to social distancing guidelines. Millions of Americans are applying for unemployment; and the CARES Act has increased benefits to the newly unemployed. The state and federal government has created a plethora of loans and grants to help small businesses and individuals. You can find details and guidance on the Chamber’s website and additional helpful tips and videos. We are offering these tools to the public at our website, https://www.sjcchamber.com/.
And finally, here is the main reason that motivated me to move to this country from France more than 20 years ago, The Spirit of Entrepreneurship. This is the one thing that I believe will always prevail in America. You can beat it up, slam it with- you name it- hurricanes, pandemics, cyber-attacks - it will still find a way to sprout, pollinate and grow at a faster rate in places where government removes barriers and encourages it to prosper.
Local governments’ role in accelerating entrepreneurship and encouraging a diversified economy will be critical for a fast and lasting economic rebound. Entrepreneurs will need to make their financial resiliency a priority as they are developing products or services. Workplaces and online platforms fostering and accelerating the connection between entrepreneurs, connecting minds, ideas, skills and resources will be more critical than ever before. Let’s remember that products and services created are the life form of the minds of our dreamers and innovators, and people are the ultimate difference makers.
So, we welcome all to join us at the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. Our mission is to help create a business environment and quality of life where people and businesses have the opportunity to prosper, and new businesses will find it attractive to locate in St. Johns County. Be safe and well.
President/CEO St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce