augusta free press news

Local task force seeks to aid small business owners through the fine print of the reopen

SAW MSA Recovery Task ForceThe SAW MSA Recovery Task Force is focused on providing resources to small businesses to ensure a recovery of some kind from the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The task force includes just about everybody it possibly can – the economic development and tourism departments from Staunton, Augusta County, and Waynesboro, the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center, Staunton Creative Community Fund, Staunton Downtown Development Association, and the United Way of Staunton, Augusta County & Waynesboro.

The number they give us for how many small businesses there are in the region – 5,000 – seems high, considering the 121,791 aggregate population for the three localities, but it’s plausible, if we’re counting the self-employed as small businesses, as is likely the case.

Accepting that number, 86 percent of our small businesses have less than 20 employees.

These are the businesses most at risk with the three-month shutdown we’ve put ourselves through.

The task force has put together a collection of resources to aid business owners through the reopen – including free PPE kits (which include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfect, printed signs, and how to open guide) on a first-come, first-served basis to 200 businesses and nonprofits.

Businesses will need to contact their economic development offices for eligibility and details.

Future initiatives will include promotional campaigns aimed at encouraging residents to support local businesses, peer-to-peer networking, and advanced business planning programs.

augusta free press
augusta free press