By: Jen Russon
In a six-month series featuring experts on various topics, the last BizAcademy presentation — held online — offered advice on how business owners can navigate the COVID-19 crisis and better survive its economic downturn.
The Zoom virtual classroom, open to Coral Springs Coconut Creek Regional Chamber of Commerce members, was hosted by Alex Falcone, emergency manager for the city of Coral Springs, Kristi Bartlett economic development manager, and Cindy Brief, chamber president.
“Our goal was to highlight relevant issues and challenges in today’s fast-changing business environment. Interestingly enough, we had already scheduled a class for this month that featured disaster preparedness, as well as cybersecurity,” said Brief.
She explained during the hour-long presentation co-presented by Florida Power and Light FPL that they would be giving all their customers a 25 percent discount in May.
During the class, which dispensed advice on how businesses and the self-employed might expeditiously apply for disaster loans and unemployment, Falcone spoke about shelter-in-place orders that went into effect in Coral Springs.
With the closure of its non-essential businesses, Coral Springs appears to be doing its part in flattening the curve. However, flattening COVID-19 has come at quite an economical price for people who live and work in the Sunshine State.
Barlett said the average number of Floridians filing for unemployment any given year is 600,000; following the COVID-19 crisis, that figure swelled to over three million individual filings.
“The system is overwhelmed right now, so it may take a while to receive assistance,” said Bartlett, who added that independent contractors are eligible to receive disaster assistance loans.
No one on the three-person Biz Academy panel could assure those tuning in that businesses would be able to re-open by May 1, and directed viewers to State Representative Dan Daley for additional support through this difficult time.
“I am not sure that businesses will be able to open in 30 days. But I am sure we have a fantastic community, and that the Chamber will continue working together to provide virtual resources for our businesses,” said Brief.
She said COVID-19 could have at least one positive outcome, in that many businesses will not only learn to operate remotely, but discover they can afford to let more employees work from home going forward.
“Many of us are going to pivot and look at our business models in a different way. I am confident if we all work together, we are going to find a way out of this,” said Brief.
- Jen Russon has been a staff writer for Talk Media since 2018. She is also a novelist, copywriter and editor at the imprint www.swallowpublishing.com. She lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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