March 24, 2020
As we navigate the coming weeks of uncertainty, the Downtown Missoula Partnership will continue to support and promote all the wonderful things that make Missoula such a special community. We are proud of how our community members have responded to the call to limit exposure through drastic measures. We are inspired by the actions of our community members and downtown leaders. They are creative entrepreneurs supporting each other through what may, in hindsight, be seen as one of the most documents world events in history.
While the Downtown Missoula Partnership office is closed to the public, our team is working from home. We are preparing for the summer events season, working on our marketing plan and communications plan, updating our website and social media postings daily, writing a couple of grants, and keeping our members connected and engaged. We continue to sell Downtown Gift Cards, but they must be ordered online, and we will mail or deliver them. If you need to reach any of us, please send an email.
Following last week’s virtual retail/food & beverage meeting, we have decided to host weekly meetings on Thursday mornings at 8:30 am, just so our downtown businesses can connect, share ideas, learn and support each other. Membership Director Chelsee Kucera ([email protected]) is using ZOOM (www.zoom.com) for these weekly gatherings for our retailers and restauranteurs.
Recognizing there are multiple channels of information out there, we have linked up the most important sources of information on our COVID-19 page on the Missoula Downtown website here: https://www.missouladowntown.com/downtown-covid-19-updates/.
As noted earlier, employees who have lost hours and wages due to coronavirus should apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible and list COVID-19 as the reason for lost employment. Here’s the link to apply: https://montanaworks.gov/.
For businesses who don’t have a rainy day fund, please consult with your banker and/or consider applying for a short-term loan. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering both business guidance and loan assistance here: https://www.sba.gov/
We anticipate more resources will be made available through state and federal channels, so we will keep you posted as more information comes forth.
As we hunker down to ride out the pandemic, it is inspiring to see how people are connecting to each other, both in their own homes and across the community. People are playing board games and doing puzzles with their families, baking and cooking made-from-scratch meals, playing music, deep cleaning, doing yard work, renovation projects, and preparing their gardens. People are supporting each other in ways that remind us we are all in this together, as one nation.
One of the best pieces of advice we heard last week was to “keep messaging” with your customers! This is the best time to engage your community members online. People are hungry for human connection, and Downtown businesses are hosting virtual happy hours and trivia nights, online video promotions to showcase store items, and offering free delivery services. Businesses are buying and having lunch delivered to other businesses. People are sharing gratitude all over the place!
We are grateful for the perseverance and creativity of our business community! Thank you for keeping your head up and your eye on the ball. Together we will get through this, and we will be stronger for it.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here for you!
Linda K. McCarthy