What has been the goal of the chamber of commerce during this crisis? During an economic disaster and COVID-19 pandemic, the mission of a chamber of commerce really shifts: We’ve been focused on keeping businesses, especially small businesses, afloat during this difficult time. People don’t always realize 80% of our chamber members are small businesses. They are the heart and soul of our city. The more businesses we help stay open, the more folks we’re helping stay employed. We are trying to give working communities the support they need during this difficult time.
How do you continue that work exactly? Working with some of our accounting firm partners, we’ve offered pro bono consulting to businesses applying for PPP loans. We’ve worked with the Small Business Administration and Mayor London Breed’s office to connect businesses with grants and loans. We’ve advocated for critical policy changes, asking for fee waivers, tax relief and insurance coverage. I’m also serving as one of four co-chairs on the mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, representing the business community. It’s a forum where we can collaborate closely with the labor movement, nonprofits, neighborhood association and elected officials. Together, we are trying to chart a path for the city’s economy through this crisis, and talk about what the city will look like after this pandemic.
How can people help? Shop small, shop often, wear a mask and eat a lot of takeout. I’m serious—we’ve seen retail and restaurant sales drop as much as 90% since March. No amount of tax relief, government grants or zero-interest loans can replace the importance of loyal, dedicated customers. We love our small businesses in San Francisco. They make this city fun and exciting and interesting. They employ tens of thousands of people. They can’t survive without your help.