GLASGOW – Restaurants have had to limit operations to carryout and drive-through service, and many types of businesses have been told to shut down completely, including child-care centers, effective Friday afternoon, as efforts continue to curb the spread of a novel type of coronavirus resulting in the illness known as COVID-19.
As the impending need for cutbacks to services and closures became increasingly apparent, the Barren County Economic Authority reached out to local businesses Monday, initiating an online survey distributed through the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce and elsewhere, to learn what the primary needs were and what help they could offer.
Within a day, 25 responses had been received and Maureen Carpenter, executive director for BCEA, sent out some preliminary information in response to the feedback being received. As of Friday afternoon, she told the Glasgow Daily Times, 35 had responded, but the top three concerns expressed remained consistent. She said the survey, which is at : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K9SCXTP , will remain active at least through next week or longer as needed.
Also this week, the nation’s top automobile manufacturers announced they would be suspending production as part of the coronavirus prevention effort, and Friday, the Daily Times learned that one of the local companies that manufactures automotive components and related products, Nemak, would be initiating a temporary shutdown beginning at 11 p.m. that evening.
The company operates two plants in Glasgow that, as of last fall, employed a total of roughly 300 people.
“First, Nemak has been practicing extensive precautions against the coronavirus to keep our employees and communities safe and healthy,” a company statement in response to questions from the Daily Times says. “Visitors to the facilities are extremely limited to prevent any unnecessary human interaction. Anyone entering the facilities, including every one of our employees is being screened for any symptoms of COVID-19. If they exhibit symptoms, they are denied entry to the building and recommended to contact a medical professional. Inside the facilities, we are practicing further preventative measures to keep our employees safe.”
With regard to recent news about its customers, the statement continues, “Nemak has been constantly monitoring market conditions and maintaining dialogue with all customers during this time. To align with the changing customer demand, Nemak Kentucky is adjusting our production schedules, including a temporary shutdown.”
Tina Williams, human resources manager for the local facilities, later provided that effective date for the shutdown.
From a smaller-business perspective, Chris Shirley, owner of CRS Construction Inc., had also provided the following statement to the newspaper about how the coronavirus issue was affecting his business:
“The site construction has all but stopped due to the wetter than normal winter we’ve experienced and with the stock market falling like it has, along with the COVID-19 and the unknown of how that’s going to affect funding (local, private, state, and federal). Projects are bidding but with no rhyme or reason to pricing. I’m seeing projects that we do go at cost or below. The fear of this has affected every business and trade,” he wrote.
The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet announced Thursday and Friday information about steps it is taking to handle the influx of unemployment claims, and Gov. Andy Beshear had earlier announced changes to those benefits to help workers impacted by coronavirus prevention measures, and Carpenter said she had been working to pass along such information to local industries so they would have it in case they ended up having mass layoffs.
In her initial response to the survey results, Carpenter said the top three needs identified were financial assistance, e-commerce and information.
In addition to suggesting discussions with financial advisors and banks that may have or know of programs to help specific businesses, she shared links for Small Business Administration programs such as the SBA Disaster Recovery Program, which can provide low-interest loans for small business and not-for-profits (https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance), and the Small Business Development Center Disaster Recovery Toolkit for Small Business (https://bit.ly/3b2DNKx). Another resource is Internal Revenue Service Coronavirus Tax Relief (https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus).
On the e-commerce front, Carpenter wrote, “We are working with several providers to offer a local webinar training, but in the meantime, there are several resources online. One in particular offers free online training with a certification once complete: https://www.emarketinginstitute.org/free-courses/e-commerce-certification-course/. If you are interested in operating a store on Amazon: Selling on Amazon: https://services.amazon.com/selling/getting-started.html .
She passed along contact information for Patricia Krausman, director and management consultant at the SBDC office in Elizabethtown, for scheduling telephonic consultations until the in-person ones resume. That number is 270-765-6737.
Carpenter also listed several links for information about COVID-19 and for businesses as it relates to it.
“Please know that the BCEA and Chamber are here to support you in anyway that we can. This is a great community and so many are coming together to support our local businesses and residents. Do not hesitate to reach out and be on the lookout for more updates and information,” Carpenter wrote in the email distributed by the chamber.