As the pain from the business closures surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt in Wabash County and elsewhere, customers, local organizations and government agencies are stepping up their efforts to support local business owners.

In response to a Plain Dealer request Thursday from Keith A. Gillenwater, president and CEO of Grow Wabash County, stated local businesses are responding the crisis in a variety of ways.

“From temporary closures like we have seen with some restaurants and retail to reduced hours,” he stated. “Our restaurants and bars are following the state mandate to move to a carry-out/delivery model during this time, so we are encouraging people to order carryout and delivery as much as they can as we want and need our restaurants to make it through to the other side of this pandemic.”

Gillenwater stated loyal customers can still support their favorite local small businesses during this challenging time.

“While we always encourage people to shop locally, we are especially pushing the idea of ‘shop local’ to as many people to do as much as they can reasonably afford,” he stated. “Purchase gift cards to use down the road so businesses can maintain some cash flow. Give local gift cards as much as they can, order carry-out and delivery as much as you can afford, share local businesses news and promotions on social media, and remember that we are all in this together. Small businesses though aren’t just retail – there is a lot of uncertainty in all of our community – manufacturers, professional services, non-profits, education, and the like.”

Gillenwater stated Grow Wabash County created a survey in partnership with several local organizations to collect information to gauge the local impact to all of our business community. The survey can be found by visiting https://tinyurl.com/vsvmv4b.

“We have been staying in constant contact with state, regional, and local officials as information is changing rapidly and we want to be able to serve the community the best that we can,” he stated. “We will also be doing some local contests on Facebook in the coming days giving away some gift cards and gift checks that have to be spent locally, and we will continue to update our COVID-19 resource webpage … We are all in this together.”

For more information, visit https://www.growwabashcounty.com/contact-us/covid-19-resources/.

Curb-side pick up available downtown

Wabash Marketplace, the downtown revitalization organization, is assisting businesses with a marketing campaign for shops offering “Curb-Side Pick Up,” according to Andrea Zwiebel, executive director.

“Consider purchasing toys to entertain children at Tiny Threads, scheduling a private painting session at Custom Crafts, ordering a vase of flowers to brighten someone’s day at Wooden Ivy, and much more,” she stated.

Zwiebel offered several ways to help local businesses:

Purchase items using the Curb-Side Pick Up method.

Call ahead to schedule solo experiences.

Visit social media accounts and websites of local businesses.

Consider buying gift cards to use at a later date.

Sponsor 2020 Membership of a business in need by calling Wabash Marketplace at 260-563-0975.

Share your thanks to local businesses.

Businesses can register for “Curb-Side Pick Up” for free.

For more information, visit www.wabashmarket place.org.

Wabash Marketplace announces Business Interruption Loan

On Thursday, Zwiebel announced Wabash Marketplace’s loan program to assist small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of Wabash Marketplace are able to apply for the Business Interruption Loan.

There are no application fees and the loan offers up to $5,000 for a maximum term of 24 months.

The Board of Directors of Wabash Marketplace unanimously voted to create the loan program at Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Those interested in the loan program are encouraged to review the loan details on the homepage of www.wabashmarketplace.org. The next step is to email info@WabashMarket place.org or leave a message at -260-563-0975.

“If this loan program is not suitable for your business, there are additional resources available. Wabash Marketplace, along with the rest of Wabash County, is available to brainstorm options,” she stated.

Small business assistance in response to COVID-19

Gov. Holcomb announced this week that Indiana small businesses are eligible for financial assistance under a disaster designation by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), stated State Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, on Friday.

This declaration is in response to a formal request Holcomb submitted with the SBA on Tuesday, seeking assistance through the organization’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in Indiana.

Under the program, small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits across the state are eligible to apply for low-interest loans up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills incurred during this public health emergency. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75 percent and 2.75 percent, respectively, with terms up to 30 years.

To apply for loans or receive more information about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, visit SBA.gov/Disaster. Contact 800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov with questions. The deadline to apply for the disaster loans is Dec. 18.

Indiana Chamber offers statewide employer COVID-19 resources

In a statement Thursday, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce announced they had created a statewide employer resource page providing information under three umbrellas: Health, Tools You Can Use and Government and Community Assistance.

The group is also taking specific business questions that will be answered by staff and private sector professionals.

The site – www.indiana chamber.com/coronavirus – features guidance on key workplace and legal topics, a coronavirus toolkit and information on unemployment insurance from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, in addition to providing health and other government resources.

Local businesses respond

On Tuesday, David K. Meier, CEO of Penguin Point Restaurant Group, released a statement regarding the forced closure of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the state.

“The safety of our patrons and associates are very important to us. In response to the current crisis, all our restaurants will offer curbside pick-up for all call-in, carry-out orders. Our operating hours will remain the same, front lobbies will remain open for patrons on foot to order and pick up carry-out orders. All of our drive-through windows will be open, business as usual. … Together we will survive this crisis even stronger,” he stated.

In a Wednesday statement to the Plain Dealer, Maria Smyth from Eclectic Shoppe also issued a statement regarding reduced hours.

“We at Eclectic Shoppe thank everyone for their support. We have made the difficult decision to close the shop throughout the week and open on Fridays and Saturdays, normal business hours. This is our effort of doing the sociably responsible thing while serving our customers and friends with some semblance of social distancing,” she stated. “On Friday and Saturday, we will offer curbside pick-up, and customers will be allowed in the shop. We rarely have 10 people or more at any given time unless it is First Friday. We do ask people that are sick to stay home. Additionally and lastly, we are continuing with taking extra steps to ensure we are taking extra precautions with wiping down counters, displays and doorways.”

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabash

plaindealer.com.