Chamber of Commerce and Discover Kodiak work to support local businesses during coronavirus slowdown

Both the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce and Discover Kodiak are closed, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community. However, as both organizations explained on today’s edition of The Lowdown, they’re still working to support local businesses, many of whom are struggling during the pandemic.

Sarah Phillips, executive director at the Chamber, said that while their office is closed to the public and staff is working at home, they are still providing resources to keep local businesses afloat.

“One of the really big ones that we’ve been sending a lot of information about is the Small Business Administration loans,” said Phillips. “So all small businesses in Alaska, and Kodiak included, are now eligible to receive loan funds.”

Small businesses can apply for loans, with reduced restrictions, of up to $2 million, said Phillips. Local companies can also submit their names and information to the Chamber, to be included in the “Shop, Eat, Explore” page on their website. The Chamber posts information about these and other resources on its website and Facebook page.

Discover Kodiak has also shuttered its doors, but they’re working on assessing the impact of coronavirus to the community’s tourism sector.

“There’s so much uncertainty there about what’s happening. Tourism is definitely up in the air,” said executive director Aimee Williams. “There’s not a good way to say ‘Hey, this is the impact that this is having on tourism,’ but I’m trying anyways.”

To that end, Williams said they’ve put out a survey of their 150 members to learn how the pandemic is affecting local businesses. The survey will also ask about impacts to revenue for the year and the potential for layoffs.

Right now, both the Chamber and Discover Kodiak are urging Kodiak residents to support local businesses as much as they can. With many people are quarantining or self-isolating, the pandemic is expected to take a toll on Kodiak’s economy.

“Buy local. Please turn off Amazon right now,” said Phillips. “We always have a “Buy Local” campaign going on, the Chamber is always letting people know how important their buying decisions are.”

Williams added, “We extend that to our Coast Guard community, letting them know that their purchasing power here on the island is tremendous. Please be aware of the impact that you make on the community that you’re in.”

Phillips and Williams were guests on today’s edition of The Lowdown, our daily coronavirus update show. You can call in with questions or suggestions for guests at (907) 486-311, or email Tomorrow’s guest will be Rebecca Shields, executive director at the Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center.

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