By Dean Whittaker

For the past two months, I have been part of a collaborative effort of a network of economic development professionals who’ve come together to create, distribute, collect, and analyze a survey to determine how businesses are responding to COVID-19.  The re-occurring bi-weekly Business Impact Covid-19 survey asks about individual company’s operations, workforce, finances and their view of the future. To date, over 3,200 surveys have been received from local economic development organizations and uploaded to create a national view. Interest in the survey mushroomed and is now being used internationally. Here is a link to the survey dashboard and a link to join the network and conduct the survey of your local companies.  We are holding weekly webinars to discuss the week’s results and share the companies’ best practices in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

Our intention is to provide tools and data to help local economic development organizations lead in the economic recovery by providing them with a data-driven, fact-based approach for decision making. As has been said: “We are all in this together.”  Please let me know how I can support you in your efforts if you decide to conduct the survey locally. While the medical teams are on the frontline working to save our lives, you and your organizations are on the frontline to save our livelihoods.  

At the moment, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the exponential speed of change taking place. The isolation, the lack of social contact and fear of contracting the virus can lead to anxiety.  It is important for our mental health to stay connected as best we can. With so much uncertainty, one day at a time is sometimes the only approach. But, recently, thinking has shifted to recovery and how to restart and re-envision our economic engine.  This has energized me. Where do we begin? What are the priorities? How do we reconnect in a healthy way?   

Someone 2,000 years ago said “Be not afraid.”  This is good advice but hard to do. Sometimes it feels like we are waiting for the shadow of death to “pass over.” And, in some ways, we are. But, I have faith in our resilient nature and the hope that this brings. 

In the meantime, my vegetable seeds sprouted on the table near the window and have been transplanted into larger containers.  It is reassuring to see that nature continues to change at the slower linear pace with new growth as nature begins again.