March 17, 2020
First of all, our hope is that you and your families are safe and healthy, and that you continue to be so. As the situation evolves, we will make every attempt to respond appropriately. But, at the moment, we are closely monitoring the recommendations from the Governor’s Office, the PA Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control for regular updates.
The current situation is changing daily, and there is no shortage of information at our fingertips, but we will make every attempt to share with all of you a variety of pertinent resources as we learn of them. Please visit our website for updates. PDC would like to be a clearinghouse of ideas and solutions for community leaders to share information with one another, please consider using the PDC Forum to post questions and to share best practices during this time of crisis.
We have cancelled the Main Street and Elm Street Advocacy Day that was scheduled for April 14th at the East Wing Rotunda, Capitol Building, Harrisburg. We are encouraging separate conversations with your legislators and will be sending a separate email providing resources to utilize when meeting with them. As far as the PDC Conference scheduled for June 7th – 10th in Reading, we are monitoring the situation, but we are not prepared to make any changes as of yet. We promise to keep you informed of any decisions made to alter the existing schedule.
Thankfully, many of you may be working from home along with your children, while some of you may be splitting your time between the office, your district, and home, all while attempting to be the resource that your community needs, now more than ever. Although we may not be physically close, times like this provide an opportunity for all of us to be there for one another, and to remain calm in a time of uncertainty. (Here is information on managing stress.) Our community businesses need to know that we’re there for them, not just as Main Street and Elm Street organizations, but as customers and friends. You may not want to dine out at the moment, but perhaps you could order take-out, purchase a gift certificate online or via the phone to use later at your favorite café, pub, or retail establishment, pre-purchase future birthday or holiday gifts now, in anticipation of a later need – whatever you can do to minimize this hardship.
DCED offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to http://dced.pa.gov/resources as they become available. The U.S. Small Business Administration, in addition to local funding partners, may also be a source of assistance for affected businesses. Currently, we’re waiting for the Senate to pass an Emergency Coronavirus Bill package. The National Main Street Center is also compiling information that’s available to the public. We will post any updates to these and other resources on our webpage.
None of us know how long this may impact our lives, and we understand that your roles and responsibilities in the your communities are ever changing, but we at the Pennsylvania Downtown Center intend to maintain business as much as usual in this very uncertain time. We will encourage communities to continue to work with us to maintain scheduled assessments, board and committee trainings, and other technical assistance, particularly that around providing business assistance. At this point, we are looking to minimize contact with community members, but we are willing to meet with smaller groups, and only in communities where travel has not been restricted. However, we encourage alternative modes of communication, such as GoTo Meeting, GoTo Webinar, and conference calls. We will make case-by-case decisions with each program manager, board, or other community leader, as to the best method at the given time.
As far as PDC staff, we will be operating a flexible work policy, with some days at the office, and some days working from home, unless travel to and from Harrisburg becomes limited. Please continue to reach out to PDC employees, preferably through email, but we all have capabilities to check our voicemail remotely as well. We will do everything we can to navigate this time of uncertainty together. Please do not hesitate reaching out with questions or concerns. We are thankful for our community of member revitalization programs, businesses, and individuals, and we are committed to be there “to help you make your town a better place”.
Thank you for your continued support and we wish all of you a healthy week ahead,
Julie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director