The Brooke Hancock Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission (BHJ) has released its online COVID-19 Business Resource Center. The site can be accessed by visiting www.bhjeconomy.com and includes disaster recovery resources for regional businesses and economic recovery information.
“As a whole the site is an easily accessible tool for area business owners to find potential sources of assistance, request assistance from our team, and learn more about our region’s economic recovery,” explained Executive Director Michael Paprocki.
BHJ Economic Development Strategist Craig Brown added, “We created the site focused on the economic environment created by COVID-19 with the intent that it will be a starting point for local businesses to work with us to help facilitate recovery.”
The site includes a list of federal and state resources useful for businesses to obtain loans, apply for grants, and or receive technical assistance. There is also a simple contact form for business owners and representatives to directly contact Brown for assistance.
“This stuff isn’t easy to understand. I have spoken with so many business owners that did not receive funds, because they either did not know about the programs or the processes were just too complicated,” Brown continued, “We want our local economy to survive, and we want those dollars to come into this community.”
There are many online sources providing links to governmental COVID-19 resources, but one truly unique aspect of the BHJ-MPC recovery site is the “Testimonials” section. The section includes recorded testimonials from local businesses and residents discussing their challenges regarding the pandemic.
Brown stressed the uniqueness of the “Testimonials” section and said that he was not aware of any other site that has taken this approach to disaster recovery.
“Many governmental organizations are viewing economic recovery from the framework of a natural disaster, but things are different. What we do needs to be different and the testimonials provide an opportunity for both the community to discuss its challenges but also to communicate its experiences to decision makers,” explained Brown.
The final aspect of the site addresses economic growth and specifically indicators that may be used to gauge the region’s economic recovery. An assortment of data is provided, including common indicators such as unemployment and sales tax distribution but also unique data such as food pantry usage and gains and losses in private establishments.
Due to funding via the CARES Act the Economic Development Administration has provided resources to assist the Region XI Brooke and Hancock Planning and Development Council regarding both the provision of short-term technical assistance and long-term resiliency planning.
More information can be obtained about BHJ’s Covid-19 Business Recovery Center or other services by contacting Craig Brown at (740) 282-3685 ext. 211 or visiting www.bhjeconomy.com.