It’s a game of survival… Hartman’s emphasis on businesses staying in place until an economic uptick

Published 8:31 am Thursday, March 26, 2020

Every day brings new challenges to local businesses and manufacturing facilities as experts are still saying that the brunt of the COVID-19 virus is still a couple of weeks away as cases continue to grow and move ever closer to Carter County.
However, Elizabethton’s director of Planning and Economic Development Jon Hartman says it is still important that the community supports the local businesses here in Carter County to give them an opportunity to continue to fight and stay afloat during this time of uncertainty.
Last week, Hartman and the City of Elizabethton changed guidelines to assist downtown restaurants by granting them an opportunity to provide curbside service for customers to pick up their orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These guidelines will stay in place until such a time as the Centers for Disease Control Guidance recommends group gatherings of no less than 100 people.
The opportunity allows each qualified business to have the opportunity to have access to one parking space but cannot have more than three and those spaces will be marked by cones which will be located directly in front of the establishment.
Those cones have to be moved when the business is closed and allows for parking for up to 15 minutes. Participating businesses have to sign a Cone Rental Agreement and are responsible for the care of the cones until they are returned to the City of Elizabethton when the guidelines are lifted.
But that isn’t the only thing that Hartman and his team have been working on to assist businesses while facing unprecedented waters.
“We have a regional partnership with other cities and a website where businesses can go and list their services, times of operation, and how they are currently doing business,” said Hartman. “Businesses can go to the website and put their information.
“The website has the counties broken down where businesses from Carter County can list under the Carter County tab plus they can look at businesses in other counties.”
Hartman encouraged all Carter County and Elizabethton businesses to take advantage of this website. Hartman added that there are webinars showing what other businesses are doing currently to enhance their business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mainstreet program in downtown Elizabethton is also important according to Hartman due to the fact they can provide information on what help may be out there for small businesses that are suffering and even facing closures due to the downtick in business.
Going on further, Hartman said there is current work being done with manufacturing and the governor’s office to put exceptions in place in the event that shelter in place orders are given.
“It’s important to make sure that manufacturers can stay in business in the event that happens,” stated Hartman. “We really don’t know how long this will be taking place as some estimates say it could be 12-18 months depending on what comes behind this COVID-19.
“It’s difficult to tell. We work to recruit businesses and sell our community. There’s not a lot the city can do because if there is no demand for a product, there is no demand.
“We don’t want to see anyone make cuts in the workforce,” Hartman continued. “That’s why we network with others to bounce ideas off each other on how we can maybe find ways to keep people working whether it’s having their employees spend time on a complete deep clean of the business instead of laying them off.”
Hartman went on to say, “The best we can do is idea sharing and provide resources whenever we can to help them make it through. We just want to make sure they can stay in place and not leave until things turn around and they are in a position to start rehiring their folks back and putting people back to work as the economy picks back up after this is over which is really important.”

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