Helping local businesses survive the shutdown


OREGON – It is no secret that the last couple of months have been hard on businesses, especially small businesses.

But in Oregon, the city and the Chamber of Commerce have worked hard to help local businesses stay afloat and ready to thrive as the state begins to slowly re-open.

Oregon Chamber Director Liz Vos sat down to answer some questions about how Oregon businesses faired, and what’s next.

Question: What has been the most difficult part of this lock down period?

Answer: When you live and work in a small community like Oregon, Illinois you get to know everyone really well. The most difficult part of this Covid-19 shut down, for me, was watching all of my business owner friends' hearts and dreams shattered. We were all gaining momentum for our area. Our town was full of visitors from ShamROCK the Town. Our boutiques, restaurants and bars were looking forward to another great spring and summer season full of visitors to our little tourist community. Then the coronavirus came out of nowhere and we all had to close our doors and stay home. We went from “full steam ahead” to an “all stop” and that was absolutely jarring. It continued on for months of uncertainty and never knowing how long the shutdown would last. 

Q: How have Oregon businesses fared?

A: Right away we all immediately took our carefully mapped plans and tossed them out the window. Our businesses on day one began thinking of creative ways to keep afloat during this uncertain time because they knew they had our support. Together the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Oregon said, “We’re going to do whatever we can to support them.” We all worked around the clock: keeping up with all of the daily changing rules, making sure our businesses were able to apply for grants and their employees able to receive assistance. Our team is very small but determined. We’re determined to fight.

Q: What have you and the business community learned from this?

A: You learn a lot about yourself when you’re tossed overboard into stormy seas. You either fight or you drown. We choose to fight. Every day we fight for our friends and neighbors, for our community that we love, and the day never ends until we can face ourselves and say we’ve done everything we could. I’m inspired every day by our strong and independent business owners who wake up every morning before the sun and go to bed exhausted long after the rest of the world. If they weren’t going to give up, then neither were we. 

Q: Have actions taken by the city, like opening up municipal parking lots for use by local businesses, helped much? Have you heard any feedback from people?

A: We’re happy to report that most were able to weather this storm, but they need your continued support. Shop local is not just a phrase and this time has really brought us closer together as a community. Many are discovering more of what we have to offer right here in our little area. You don’t need to travel to find it because we have it all here. Yes, businesses are all taking a loss this year, but they all have faith in our community. They have faith in you dear readers that you’ll be there for them. That you’ll support them by inviting your friends and family out to visit us. If you’re proud of what we're doing, then go right now and invite a friend out to go shopping or fishing or out to dinner to meet us and our town. Our businesses have faith in you, in our City, and in the Chamber of Commerce. They have faith that together we’ll get through this because time and again we prove it.  We don’t take their faith lightly. 

Q: How do you think Oregon businesses will look different after this period, or will they?

A: It’s a delicate ecosystem in a small community like ours. We’ll continue to fight and remain united no matter what the world looks like around us.