Since joining the South County Economic Development Council as its new CEO in early April, it has been amazing to see the commitment and pride local business owners have in their community and their customers. Businesses are facing some of the toughest challenges ever encountered and remain focused on what is best for everyone. Through our outreach efforts, it is apparent businesses are eager to get back to providing services and want to do so when it is safe for those they serve.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have spoken with hundreds of businesses via zoom and other technologies. Many of the conversations have surrounded putting the necessary measures in place to protect employees and customers. There has been a real sense of community and collaboration as companies look to source protective equipment and alter their business models. Operators have been quick to share best practices and contacts with counterparts and competitors.
Working with our civic partners throughout the county and beyond, we have been able to help to formulate plans to be implemented by companies as they prepare for the phasing of reopening. Supervisor Greg Cox and Mayor Kevin Faulconer have been tremendous in coordinating a cohesive effort in listening to constituents’ needs and how they are impacted by proposed guidelines. All of this has led to the development of the San Diego County Safe Reopening Plan. The plan outlines the steps to safely reopen and affords consumers confidence the places they visit have taken appropriate steps to protect everyone.
At the South County EDC, the focus is on helping local businesses navigate these difficult times. Outreach will continue both through virtual meetings and data collection. Our commitment to clear, timely, and accurate communication has been even further ratcheted up. Our emergency loan program has already assisted 31 South County businesses since the beginning of March. The program continues to evolve creating access for even further assistance to companies in South County.
As an economic development council, we are proud to have stood with businesses and helped them retain and grow jobs over the past 30 years. As the economy evolves and we all find ourselves in uncharted territory, the South County EDC has proactively taken steps to help those looking at transitioning their business. We are partnering with our local universities and colleges to assess what the new workforce will need in South County. New programs and opportunities are being developed to help the workforce come back with an increased vigor and focus.
Having talked with business owners who have watched as their dreams face unexpected challenges, I am committed to seeking out resources to help them. As we move forward, collaboration and partnership with federal, state, and local organizations is necessary now more than ever. San Diego County and the cities I have the pleasure of working with here in South County are among the most passionate around. We know the road ahead is challenging and uncertain, but together we can continue to build on the success and resilience South County is known for.