As we come out of this public health emergency it’s important to entrench some of the lessons we’ve learned and make every effort to avoid future pandemics and the negative socio-economic impacts some households and businesses have experienced.
The most basic lesson we should all lock-in is that we need to keep paying attention to hand washing and basic preventative hygiene, especially staying home when we’re sick. Each one of us has a critical role to play in preventing a surge of COVID-19 and the spread of other viruses that can overwhelm our health care system.
Another key lesson is that we should all do what we can to support our local businesses at all times – spending locally is the best way to ensure we have a robust economy that supports as many jobs as possible.
It may be enticing to shop online or head to Prince George or Kamloops to shop, and sometimes those options are necessary given we’re a small community with a limited retail sector. But, as a matter of principle, if we all give our local retailers a reasonable opportunity to meet our consumer needs, I think we’ll find they are resourceful and can be just as affordable as other options. More importantly, always shopping local first will, over time, increase choice closer to home and create a more robust and diverse retail experience here for everyone.
During this pandemic, every effort was made to support our local businesses based on lessons we had learned from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires. In the early days of the public health emergency, we quickly brought all of Quesnel’s business associations and support agencies together and created a robust support system in an effort to ensure businesses in the North Cariboo knew how to access any financial supports being made available to them and their employees.
This Business Support Team reached out to 755 businesses through April and May and provided assistance to 220 local businesses. On average, these businesses received $16,172 in loans, grants, and rebates through various programs. We’re estimating over $3.5 million was accessed with support from the team. At the time of follow up calls in June, only 13% of businesses who received support remained closed, while nearly 60% were open as normal, pre-Covid.
As businesses move back into normal operations (with appropriate public health safety measures in place), it’s now up to residents to support them as fully as possible. Just as we have a critical role to play in stopping the spread of viruses, we also have a key role to play in ensuring our local economy rebounds even stronger than pre-pandemic times.
As we head into the summer months (if it ever stops raining!), please continue to practice proactive hygiene and social distancing, and please, use your consumer power to help us create and maintain a strong local economy.