Even with perfect 20/20 vision, no one could have ever predicted the chaos and confusion the year 2020 would bring. Who could have guessed we would be wearing masks to go into a bank!
On March 11, 2020 when the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, the chaos began. Within a very short time businesses became deemed essential or non-essential and mandatory closures ensued. Business owners complied with many having to shut their doors with very little notice. The unknowns loomed heavier than the knowns: how long will this last, will there be a second wave, how long can my business survive?
Many of those same questions still plague business owners, even with the advancements to Stage 3. To many it feels like they are in the board game Jenga, if one more block gets pulled everything could come crashing down around them. Even during this bleak time, there are glimmers of hope.
One of the hopeful signs we are seeing within the Community Futures network is that many businesses have been able to return to making their regular loan payments. Payment relief was offered early on, varying from no payments at all to interest only payments, depending on need. Over time, as things started to stabilize, business owners began letting us know how much they appreciated the relief we had provided, but they now felt able to resume their regular payment schedules. Of course, we are only a phone call away if things change and relief is once again required.
We look forward to continuing to support the businesses in Essex County as they navigate this new normal and reinvent themselves in ways they likely had not even dreamed of as they rang in the new year, only a few short months ago.