Business Will Need a Hand

by Todd Sanders

As a chamber of commerce with a broad and diverse membership base, we’ve seen the full range of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Greater Phoenix region’s businesses, nonprofits and community-based organizations. For us, we’ve completely shifted our operations from emphasizing connections at events and programs to virtual offerings that still serve our members while practicing social distancing. Our entire team is working remotely, but committed to delivering top-notch services to our members.

While it has been a challenge, we are committed to staying home in the short-term to protect our community’s long-term health.

I’ve heard from many businesses and leaders. Some of our members in the restaurant and hospitality industry are struggling. Businesses like these are unsure about what their future looks like after this crisis. And, yet, we also have other members in the healthcare and retail sectors that are grappling to secure critical supplies and the very real need for stronger talent pipelines.

Each chamber of commerce is experiencing this public health crisis differently. Still, I know from my conversations with other chamber leaders that we are all focused on transitioning our work — both our tangible services and our advocacy efforts — to meet the immediate needs of our members and unique business communities. For the Greater Phoenix Chamber, this looks like daily calls with the Governor’s Office, working collaboratively with the Arizona Chamber Executives, to ensure all chambers are able to communicate the most recent and relevant information to their members. We have also launched digital resources and webinars to connect our members with subject matter experts.

Through our Foundation, we formed a partnership with Data Doctors, AzSTRUT, School Connect AZ and Cox Communications to start a laptop drive to provide more students with access to the technology they need to continue learning while schools are closed.

While the physical chamber office doors are temporarily closed, our work is more important than ever. My colleagues across the industry remain steadfast in their commitment to helping businesses. While we been fortunate and not experienced any supply chain issues, several of our members are experiencing this hurdle. At this step, we are leaning into our role as a community convener and connector to help our essential businesses close their supply gaps.

As our community emerges from this crisis, I think we will see a renewed focus on collaboration and connection to build a better, brighter Arizona. For my organization, we’ve learned a lot about being nimble and responsive to our members and community; when this is all over, I know that we will carry this mindset with us in future work and initiatives.

As this situation has continued, I think we’ve all seen how work can look different. As we emerge from this crisis, I think our community will see a focus on flexible workspaces — where and when appropriate — that emphasize wellness, innovation, and taking care of business.

This is one part of the June 2020 cover story on industry impact of COVID-19. To see the full story, click here.

Photos courtesy of Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

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