Executive director of the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce on what the organization is doing to work with and help small businesses
By Lou Sorendo
Q.: As an affiliate of CenterState CEO in Syracuse, how has the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce fared in the midst of COVID-19 and what have been the keys to sustaining your organization through these challenging times?
A.: Our partnership and collaboration with CenterState CEO has been invaluable in the midst of COVID-19, allowing us to better support the Oswego County business community and work alongside our local municipalities and leaders as we work through the impacts of the pandemic. As a team, we increased our capability to respond to the hundreds of calls and requests for support we are receiving from members and community partners. To streamline our intake, we launched firstname.lastname@example.org. Each request is routed to an appropriate staff member, with the mission being to serve our business community efficiently. Since March 2020, we have consistently helped members to explore critical financing options, understand rapidly changing emergency regulations and share best practices for remote work and workplace safety.
Q.: What kind of feedback have you received from chamber members in terms of the needs they have entering 2021?
A.: We are focusing on helping members navigate through business-threatening financial crises, understanding and adapting to rapidly changing regulations and sharing best practices for working remotely as well as in the workplace. Additionally, thanks to our strategic events and communications teams, we provide timely virtual events, resources and programming tailored to navigate the various impacts of COVID-19. These tools can be found on www.centerstateceo.com and oswegofultonchamber.com.
Q.: How will COVID-19 impact chamber-sponsored events in 2021?
A.: During these uncertain and stressful times, I am grateful to hold a position where I can share positive news, collaborations and events taking place in our community. We appreciate the relationships that we have fostered with our sponsors and my team is proud that they find value by investing in our programming and events. Through generous sponsorships, our events will continue as planned for 2021. The key to our success has been our team’s ability to be creative, nimble and modify our programming as needed. We will again assume a hybrid model with events like our annual meeting, networking events and roundtables taking place virtually and events such as our annual golf social and farmers’ markets taking place in a more “traditional” manner while adhering to federal, state and local safety protocols.
Q.: Of businesses in the Oswego and Fulton areas, which have been hurt the most by COVID-19 and which are getting through relatively unscathed?
A.: COVID-19 has created an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Across our community, businesses have been impacted. A number of businesses faced challenges that ranged from a decrease in customer demand and revenue to issues related to supply chains. Talent issues continue to be a challenge for businesses as do the need to adapt to and purchase new technologies for employees working from home. There are certain industries that were and are able to weather the COVID-19 crisis better than others, including manufacturing. We saw companies like HealthWay in Pulaski, experts in indoor air quality, realize incredible growth to the degree where it has been able to give back to other industries that did not fare as well.
Q.: Has membership been affected by the pandemic, and if so, to what extent?
A.: As a fully integrated partner, truly functioning as the Oswego County branch of CenterState CEO, the GOFCC was able to extend its rapid response efforts to the county and showcase the benefits that come with membership in 2020. We will build upon that momentum into 2021. We will continue to support the business community by provide strategic programming, advocacy and resources to businesses of all sizes across our county. Additionally, we will launch new programs and incentives to engage our partners and help them navigate the ever-changing landscape.