As COVID-19 spread its malicious tentacles throughout the Lowcountry, bringing all but a few sectors of the commercial world to a virtual standstill and isolating local residents from their friends, business associates, shopping and activity venues and, in some cases, even their family members, one local organization offered what many people sought: information.
The Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce collected and made available to its members a wealth of useful knowledge, from proclamations offered by Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie and Gov. Henry McMaster to coronavirus guidelines from President Donald Trump and just about everything else in between. Some of the information was available at the Coronavirus Resource Center located on the organization’s website, while the Chamber also kept East Cooper businesses up to date with webinars and online interviews.“Our website was a one-stop shop for information about the coronavirus,” Chamber President Shane Griffin pointed out. “We were constantly updating the information. It was a great value to the community because it gave businesses the latest information and explained how it affected them.”
Griffin said much of the information on the Chamber website came from government entities, such as the town of Mount Pleasant and the state of South Carolina, as well as from the U.S. and South Carolina Chambers of Commerce. It also arrived almost every day from Joe Russo, Trump’s special assistant and director of business outreach. Emails from the White House Office of Public Liaison provided a wealth of information concerning COVID-19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and federal assistance to small businesses.
“Sometimes we got several emails a day, and we chose what was most important to our members to post on our Coronavirus Resource Center page,” Griffin commented.
In addition to data, the Chamber website offered analysis and tips from government agencies and other chambers. The site also included information provided by local businesses. Were you interested in which local restaurants were offering takeout service after eateries were prohibited from serving customers in their dining areas? Would it have been helpful to know which businesses were still open and when? Maybe you were looking for a special discount from a Chamber member. All this information and more was available in the Coronavirus Resource Center.
In addition, the Chamber kept its members and the general public informed with a stream of webinars on subjects that were important to local businesses. For example, one webinar, co-sponsored by the South Carolina Chamber, the South Carolina Hospital Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield, delved into lowering risk and keeping your workforce safe, while another concerned the CARES Act and changes in federal tax policy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chamber member John Carroll presented a webinar titled “Taking Control of Your Day and Your Life.”
The Mount Pleasant Chamber also offered “Mondays with the Mayor,” using Zoom to present a once-a-week, 30-minute interview with Haynie. The initial real-time interview was done on a Tuesday.
Griffin believes everything the Mount Pleasant Chamber did to help local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic was simply part of the job of the organization that represents businesses East of the Cooper.
“It’s our duty to provide this kind of information,” he said. “These businesses are making serious decisions. They need to know that their Chamber is there as a partner.”
By Brian Sherman