“They lost all their business overnight. But then they came up with ideas. . . ."
“Tavares is known as ‘America’s Seaplane City’ and one of our seaplane manufacturers is owned by people in China, in Wuhan. I visited their plant back in November or December, a little over a year ago when things were locked down in Wuhan. I realized at that time the severity of what this could mean if the virus came to the U.S. In early February, I was on a Facebook group for chamber professionals and I posted in there ‘is anybody concerned about the coronavirus and having to close down or be sheltered or that kind of thing?’ And they all poo-pooed, no, no, no, no, no.
It wasn’t like I put pen to paper and said ‘this is what I'll do when this happens,’ but when it happened, I was ready. We went immediately into action. I knew it was important for people to get information and stay in contact with each other, so we started a ‘Tuesday’s 10 at 10’ Zoom group meeting beginning the second week of lockdown. I got 10 business owners on a Zoom call with the economic development director for the city and for the county and we just talked. ‘How are you guys doing?’
One of our first ones was a T-shirt company that was booming. They make t-shirts for events, mostly these Christian camps, all over. They were huge. And they lost all their business overnight. But then they came up with ideas, and so they're sharing their ideas on this Zoom meeting and getting feedback and suggestions. Meanwhile, our county and our elected official reps are hearing what everybody's doing.
‘10 at 10’ took off. Our Congressman, our US Congressman, heard about it and attended several of them. Pretty soon restaurants and small businesses in other parts of our region wanted to join our chamber and be part of this as well.
What this taught me is something I’ve known in the back of my head for a while - a chamber’s main job is advocacy and economic development. And that's pretty much all I've done this year. In 2021, we will do three events, but we aren’t going to do the other little stuff we used to do. The focus will be advocacy and economic development." - J Scott, Tavares Chamber of Commerce #Florida