In response to the growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indy Chamber has launched an online platform designed to assist small businesses. The Indy Chamber Rapid Response Hub provides answers to frequently asked questions from entrepreneurs, business owners and employers who may be impacted by the coronavirus, as well as local and state directives aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. Chamber Chief Executive Officer Michael Huber said there was a need to help businesses navigate the ever-changing situation.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Huber said the need for such a service became increasingly apparent.
“We are noticing just a lot of our members, a lot of businesses calling in saying, ‘How do I keep my employees safe? What should I do with hours and business continuity?’ and we decided that we needed to put up an information hub and a hands-on service to get to as many of those businesses as possible,” said Huber.
Huber says first and foremost, the hub connects business owners with the most up-to-date information, including the latest mandates and directives from government officials, which can change hour to hour. To help answer more complex questions, the chamber has tapped civic organizations such as the IU Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, which will have faculty, students and alumni help business owners with their inquiries.
“We’re getting questions like, ‘Can my business stay open right now? What would be the implications of me closing my doors for a period of a few weeks? Where can my employees go if they’re experiencing challenges?’ We just thought it was really important to make sure that they knew where they can take their questions and provide a very fast response of experienced folks to help them navigate these challenging times.”
Just last week, the National Federation of Independent Businesses detailed the results of a survey, which showed a majority of small businesses were not being impacted by the coronavirus. On Monday, Governor Eric Holcomb announced directives requiring restaurants, bars and nightclubs to close to in-person patrons, while Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett went further for Marion County by adding movie theaters, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness facilities to that list.
Huber says the impact to small businesses is growing.
“We are seeing a first wave of impacted small businesses; we’ve seen a lot of retail businesses, including restaurants. We’re seeing a lot of service businesses, both consumer and B2B services, who are now feeling the impacts of the losses of events. We’ve got employees who are being laid off or furloughed and (we’re) trying to help businesses think through those challenges. We’ve got businesses that need loans or capital to really get them by what looks like weeks of uncertainty.”
Huber says the Indy Chamber has some loan capital, including microloans, that can be made available to businesses. He says they’re also monitoring the possibility of the state and federal government making additional financial resources available through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Huber also touched on the topic of financial assistance in remarks Monday night to the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council.
“Indy Chamber business coaches are also available for remote business coaching sessions and the Indy Chamber is able to offer loans for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Further, we expect new tools and resources to be made available in the coming days. We are also engaging our financial institutions for what’s next, and how we can come together in what we hope is a successful recovery.”
You can learn more about the Indy Chamber Rapid Response Hub by clicking here.
Huber says the need for the Rapid Response Hub became increasingly apparent.