The worst thing you can do is panic and react based on fear. That said, we need to band together and pull through.
Durango has historically, since its founding, been a “boom and bust” town. If you’re stuck at home, read historian Duane Smith’s works. It’ll give you a perspective about what Durango has been through for our multiple decades. (Maybe, because kids need to be home-schooled, a history lesson about how Durango evolved.)
Did you know that in the not-so-distant past, during the hard times, our merchants supported residents with “credit.”
That’s the past; what we need to do now to support our neighbors is basically “shop local.” That sounds very weird because we are used to having everything we need, and not many of us are enthused about shopping for anything except food (or perhaps beer and wine).
As we continue to be self-quarantined, check out our local businesses’ websites and find what you need. The Durango Chamber site, www.durangobusiness.org, has added some quick references: “Stay Informed,” “Takeout Takeover,” “Purchase Online,” and “Businesses That Offer Gift Cards.” Also, the Durango Business Improvement District frequently updates its Business Directory. The BID, Visit Durango, Durango Restaurant Association, Region 9, The Alliance and other organizations are collaborating three days a week to keep people informed, ultimately helping sustain the community.
It, whatever “it” is, is likely going to get worse before it gets better. In addition to our concerns about our physical health, I’m concerned about our economic health. If we have no skiing during the traditional boom of spring break, if we have no railroad rolling that brings thousands of tourists here and if our restaurants can’t be open ... that’s a lot of outside dollars that won’t be funneled into our economy from tourists. And a lot of our local friends and neighbors who won’t have their jobs.
The Community Emergency Relief Fund – CERF – has been reactivated. This is something we all pulled together to create. To donate, please visit www.swcoda.org and scroll down. Our community team reactivates this fund as necessary, and we’re doing so now to support the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are going to be out of work so we can help them pay their rents, purchase food, get gasoline and keep their utilities paid.
The CERF is a voluntary effort and run through the Community Foundation for Southwest Colorado. Out-of-work employees are eligible to apply. The Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization, so your donation is tax-deductible.
Together ,we can take care of one another. Every bit makes a difference.
On a larger scale, the Durango Chamber is partnering with other chambers throughout the nation to lobby on business interruption insurance language. Chambers have a big voice for small business, and collectively your voice is being heard. In addition, the Durango Chamber surveyed our 800 members this week and shared the results with Congressman Scott Tipton as well as our local, state and other federal elected officials, summarizing what local businesses need.
I’m going to go back to my traditional mantra – shop local when you can. We want all our businesses to still be in business when we come out of this on the other side.
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.