When you are a leader of a local economy organization, and you’re hit with a massive disaster that’s beyond your control, what do you do?
Panic and run around in circles isn’t a good answer. But the five steps that Isaac Kremer, Executive Director of the Downtown Metuchen Alliance, used were pretty well on the mark.
You can watch our conversation above, or listen to it on Soundcloud here. You can also pick up this and other AccelerateUs interviews on Stitcher or Spotify as part of the Building a Wise Local Economy podcast.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit and local businesses in Metuchen, New Jersey were shut down, Isaac knew his downtown was in for stormy weather. And as a one-person staff, he didn’t have a lot of tools at his disposal.
As he describes in this conversation, Issac’s response focused on five steps:
1. Asking businesses what help they need most and connecting them with a new idea, resource, or even with other businesses dealing with similar issues.
2. Keeping up-to-date about federal stimulus and local programs to provide on-demand, timely help.
3. Finding the “connectors” in our community and organize outreach to all our businesses – especially important for hard to reach businesses that are now closed and for whom there are no easy ways to contact the owners. As he says, “no one person can get to every business, but with a good system of organization we can get to most if not all businesses.”
4. Target technical assistance to help businesses adapt, especially with more intensive one-on-one coaching, business planning, finding financing, developing new products and services, and developing new distribution channels.
5. Bring additional financing to the table, such as a “bridge loan or a business resilience fund to get businesses through the coming months.
Isaac’s description of how these issues played out in Metuchen are a master class for any community dealing with the pandemic or other crises. And you get an occasional cameo from Scooter, to boot!
For more information about the Downtown Metuchen Alliance, check out DowntownMetuchen.org