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The City Journals

ChamberWest works to navigate local businesses through turbulent times

May 21, 2020 11:11AM ● By Darrell Kirby

A sign of the times at a Verizon Wireless store in West Valley City as it and many other businesses battle through health and safety issues and a battered economy brought on by COVID-19. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

In normal times, ChamberWest is busy offering a full slate of activities and resources for area businesses to grow and prosper.

Today, the chamber of commerce serving West Valley City, Kearns, Taylorsville and West Jordan is trying to help many of its member businesses simply stay open.

COVID-19 has brought the nation’s economy to a standstill. Local businesses are feeling the same effects. Many regular and prospective customers are homebound to avoid the potentially deadly virus or unwilling to spend money because of unstable job situations.

ChamberWest President and CEO Barbara Riddle says the chamber is frequently being called upon for survival techniques and encouragement. “We’re trying to be as positive as we can, we’re trying to be a resource, we’re trying to get information out to help our businesses so they can survive, especially the small businesses.”

Many of ChamberWest’s more than 300 member businesses are smaller enterprises. Riddle says the fear experienced by businesses is due in part to a lack of reliable information or plain misinformation. A weekly chamber newsletter emailed to members is now being sent every day or two with the latest news on resources and ways to navigate an economic downturn that some predict could be closer in magnitude to The Great Depression than the Great Recession that hit in 2008.

Riddle says small retail businesses and restaurants in the chamber’s service area have suffered the most because of a decline in walk-in traffic, and they’re calling the chamber for guidance. That includes advice on how to get SBA loans and other financial assistance provided by the

$2 trillion CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump to avert an economic free fall.

How long local businesses will struggle is anyone’s guess based on the uncharted territory of a pandemic-induced economic downturn not seen in our lifetimes. “People just want to get to some sense of normalcy that they can get back to business,” Riddle said.

She says there are glimmers of hope that the struggles will be relatively short-lived since the current crisis is not the result of any systemic economic issues like the subprime mortgage crisis that many economists link to the recession of a decade ago. 

“Businesses are hungry for a path forward,” she said.