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Rochester Industries Fighting Back Against COVID-19

By Sammi Cohen

There is no getting around it: COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on local businesses. A great deal of uncertainty surrounds the virus, leaving many questions unanswered. What does the future look like for essential and non-essential businesses? When will things return to “normal?” Is it possible to fully return to the normal we once knew?

Several businesses are taking action into their own hands, not sitting idly by or waiting around for answers. Here are just a few things businesses are doing in a stirring show of perseverance, strength, and solidarity during these uncertain times.

Upstate NY Distilleries Step In To End Hand Sanitizer Shortage

As early as February, Walgreens and CVS warned CNN that there may be a shortage of hand sanitizer. That prediction turned out to be true. All across the U.S., customers cleared the shelves of major retailers and big-box stores. Even stores that do not specialize in household goods or pharmaceutical wares–beauty stores like Bath and Body Works–quickly ran out of stock.

As the hand sanitizer shortage spreads, Upstate NY breweries stepped in to do something about it. Every day, the 1911 Established brewery in Layfatte produces 2,000 cases of 12-ounce hand sanitizers, according to Syracuse.com. Rochester distillery Black Button Distilling churns out 70,000 24-ounce bottles weekly as well as some bulk containers. The brewery donates all of its hand sanitizers to hospitals, food production companies, and essential businesses in and out of New York State. Black Button Distilling and 1911 Established are so committed to meeting the increased need for hand sanitizer that they currently dedicate nearly 100% of their business hours to its production and distribution.

These breweries are accomplishing heroic feats. Not just by helping to protect healthcare workers and food industry workers from the coronavirus pandemic, but also by keeping them healthier in general. For example, symptoms of the common cold start showing one to three days after contracting the virus. Frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use curbs the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses like the common cold and flu.

The distilleries plan to continue to make hand sanitizer as long as there is a demand for it.

Classic Car Cruise Aims To Support Healthcare Workers And Beat COVID Blues

B&C Auto Restoration is teaming up with Rochester car owners and nearby county classic car enthusiasts to organize a classic car cruise.

The exchange of classic, used, or beloved vehicles is a time-honored tradition. In fact, every year, dealerships and individuals sell and/or trade 40 million used cars.

Aficionados plan to drive classic cars, rat rods, muscle cars, and hot rods past local hospitals and wave to show their thanks. Organizers remind participants to practice social distancing and show due caution by remaining inside their vehicles at all times.

Where Can Businesses Turn For Help?

While these breweries and autobody shops are showing incredible strength and resiliency during the pandemic and economic hardships associated with it, the reality is that it is not a viable option for all businesses. Some businesses are struggling–badly.

At present, for example, there is relatively little demand for interior design services. Ordinarily, the interior design industry brings in $10 billion per year!

The good news is that there are several resources available for local Rochester businesses. These resources can buoy spirits, profits, and keep businesses afloat while New York government officials come up with a gradual and science-based plan to reopen the economy.

Businesses across many different industries and fields have several possible avenues to explore for financial relief. Here are just a few:

  • Business Emergency Retention Grant Program “Grants may be utilized towards working capital to pay business expenses to continue operations and retain employees,” CityofRochester.gov explains. Grants average $2,000 and may be applied to payroll, utilities, insurance, inventory, and any other expenditures vital to day-to-day operations.
  • Kiva Rochester’s crowd-funding program Small businesses may now borrow up to $15,000 from Kiva amid the coronavirus pandemic. Loans are interest-free and businesses can take advantage of a six-month grace period before their first loan payment is due. At any other time, Kiva crowdfunded loans are available to fund new locations, relocation, and equipment for small businesses. During this time, many businesses are using their Kiva loans to cover daily operations costs.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is extending low-interest loans of up to $2 million to account for small business revenue lost owing to the outbreak of COVID-19. The application and processing of these loans can take some time. To make up for the interim, the SBA is offering Express Bridge Loans. These loans are distributed quickly and are available in amounts of up to $25,000.
  • Monroe County Emergency Small Business Support Program This program offers zero-interest loans for businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees. Monroe county is extending financial support in amounts of up to $10,000. These loans are for businesses who are feeling the brunt of lost profits during the pandemic and those whose staff meets qualifying limits.

The resources above are just a few examples of what is out there. Visit the CityofRochester.gov’s Business Loans, Services, and grants page for more information. Explore monroecounty.gov’s “COVID-19 Resource Navigator for Businesses” for even more options.

COVID-19 is synonymous with uncertainty. “About 90% of the country has been on some form of lockdown order for several weeks now,” Forbes writes. Lockdowns will not continue forever, but exactly how long they will continue is currently unknown.

Thankfully, Upstate NY is rising to meet that challenge. So far, in the midst of the unprecedented and a global pandemic of unmatched proportions, businesses continue coming together to give thanks to healthcare workers and do their part to ensure that frontline workers are as safe and healthy as possible.

Thankfully, Rochester-based programs and national programs are giving back to businesses as well–recognizing that not all businesses have the resources to go the extra mile during this time.

According to The New York Times and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most straightforward and honest answer we have about the outcomes of COVID-19 is “we don’t know.” What we do know is that Upstate NY officials and businesses will continue to embrace these uncertainties and push through together.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2020 at 12:38 pm and is filed under Rochester News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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