RICHMOND, Va. — Six weeks after Virginians began social distancing, experts say that small businesses are taking a huge hit.
Brian Anderson, President and CEO of ChamberRVA, which counts more than 600 businesses as members, joined CBS 6’s Bill Fitzgerald via Zoom Thursday to discuss the local economic landscape.
Anderson said the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has impacted his members across a wide range.
“There are those that have completely had to shut down because of the stay-at-home orders,” said Anderson. “They are not able to operate their businesses. Others that have been able to, continue to work with their employees working remotely like our staffs, but all across the board, certainly serious.”
He also said it’s taken time for funds from the two massive federal bills to get to local businesses, but they seem to be working.
“They’re helpful,” he said. “We’ve been working hard with a lot of other organizations in the region to make sure we can give people good accurate information, with tutorials and webinars to make the application. Our financial institutions and SBA approved lenders are working extremely hard to make sure people can get through the process. The federal government is government, so it takes a while for things to get through the process.”
Anderson described the toolkit ChamberRVA provides its members, which helps them navigate the new terrain, as crucial to letting them do two things: “Take care of their employees when they get back to opening up and take care of their customers,” he said. “We do that right and we can give consumer confidence a boost and we can kind of roll out the economy reopen in a much safer in a much more successful fashion.”
As for when Virginia should reopen, Anderson said he believes state and local officials will find the right time.
“The federal government, all the way down to our local jurisdictions are doing everything they can to make sure that we get the right information out,” Anderson said. “They’re trying to make sure that it’s accurate, that we follow the right rules of science that our health professionals have given us, and then be able to reopen when it’s the right manner.”