A letter from Tom Baldrige, President & CEO of the Lancaster Chamber: “100 or so days ago Lancaster County went into lockdown. Businesses shut, schools closed, the stock market tanked, and the anxiety that hung over the unknown froze most people in their tracks. Suddenly, everything was urgent and, frankly, scary.
True to form, Lancaster County took a collective deep breath and immediately started the hard work to figure it all out. Our healthcare systems mobilized around plans to protect the health of county residents; our grocery stores (and, as importantly, our foodbanks and social service agencies) adjusted to make sure people had food; our businesses pivoted and innovated where they could to find a path forward; our local, state and federal governments offered help to weather the storm; and generosity and bravery prevailed as story-after-story of heroic actions became the norm. Our continued thanks and admiration to all those who stepped-up!
And soon a quasi-calm prevailed. Talk of a new-normal began to emerge. Panic faded as determination grew. The Lancaster Chamber and the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County partnered to create an Economic Recovery Plan, which was enhanced by funding from the County Commissioners. And things began to move forward. Slowly and with intention.
Flash forward to today and here we are in “Green” – the most lax color of the state’s guidance.
Starting today we hope to see restaurants and retail stores open more fully for you to visit and support (Think Local, please!). We hope to see workplaces restored to where they left off. We hope to see tourists return for the Summer season. And, we hope to double-down on the work involved to get our economy started again.
Yet, despite the celebratory nature of “Going Green!”, we also have to hope—if not, plead!– for continued caution. In this case, “Green” does not simply mean “Go!” Instead, it means proceed with caution. We only have to look to states across the country to know the challenges of believing the worst is fully behind us and relaxing prematurely. In some ways, it reinforces the Kermit the Frog phrase, “it isn’t easy being green.”
As you go out, as you re-open, as your workplace gathers again PLEASE be sure to continue to follow all appropriate protocols. Throughout this journey, the phrase “new normal” has become somewhat of a catch-phrase, with some living into it and others bristling at the thought. Well, as we welcome Green as a sign of progress, we need to recognize that it comes with a listing of our “new normal” for the foreseeable future. You can find a full list of the new guidance here.
Truth be told, I would love nothing more than to make this column a fully celebratory moment. And, to be clear, there are many reasons to celebrate.
However, it is simply not a time to back-off from the sacrifices that we have made over the past few months in an effort to slow-the-spread (to the degree wearing a mask and washing your hands is a “sacrifice”!). And, thanks to one of the programs in the Economic Recovery Plan, all companies with 100 or fewer employees have easy access to FREE PPE (including a touchless thermometer) simply by applying at www.recoverylancaster.com/ppe. Simply put, there is no reason not to apply and it will make us ALL safer when you do.
I hope everyone does their part to keep the worst of COVID-19 behind us. There is too much opportunity in our future to put it in jeopardy.
Rest assured, the Lancaster Chamber will continue to do our part to provide you with the resources you need to fully leverage the new opportunities (and the new normal!) that today invites.
Continue to explore our calendar for new virtual events, webinars, and resources that will help your business get back on track.
In the meantime, celebrate the next leg in our collective journey at the restaurant of your choice….and be safe.”