MENDOCINO Co., 4/1/20 — The last several weeks have brought a changing series of coronavirus related “shelter in place” orders, social distancing requirements, and a wide range of business closures to Mendocino County, with no end date currently in sight for the new restrictions, and many business owners and their workers are unsure of how to prepare, or stay afloat.
“People are reaching out more and more every day,” says Mary Anne Petrillo, Executive Director of West Business Development Center, which has reorganized its services, workshops, and resources to support local businesses seeking help through the pandemic. As part of this effort, along with free webinars and an information page, West Center has created a free online directory where business owners can list what services they have available.
West Center has set up these two main ways to help local businesses beyond their usual capacity as free one-on-one small business advisors: this information page about resources for local businesses, and the free “Open For Business” listings, also viewable at BUYMENDO.com.
There are currently a variety of state and federal resources available to business owners who have had to shut down or cut back employees, such as loans and other financial support, and the new online directory is one way that West Center is helping businesses promote what services they currently offer. The free listing is open to all Mendocino County businesses, and new listings will go up within 24 hours.
“A place they can tell others about how they are getting their services and product to market,” explains Petrillo.
West Center is also offering business consulting services remotely, including webinars specific to resources around the coronavirus pandemic, and has created an information page that is regularly updated with the latest resources available to help local businesses, which has been changing quickly. That page includes information on how to apply for the Small Business Administration loans that open this week, along with a variety of webinars and other resources for business owners.
“We know that businesses are scared, worried, frustrated, and angry at different points throughout the day,” says Petrillo, and she encourages any business owners in the county needing support to reach out with questions.
West Company is the county’s Small Business Administration (SBA) contractor, and typically offers many free services to business owners. Over the last several weeks, staff have also been coordinating with state and federal agencies to ensure they are up to date on how to help local business owners during the course of the pandemic, which remains uncertain. “Well get through, this but it’s gonna be a little longer than we all had hoped,” Petrillo adds.
Here’s a press release from West Center:
Open for Business: West Business Development Center Launches Online “What’s Open” Resource
West Center invites Mendocino County businesses to participate in their Open for Business listings
UKIAH, Calif. – March 27, 2020 – Taking a cue from the Yellow Pages, the West Business Development Center has launched an online “Open for Business” listing resource. Retailers and services are invited to submit their business information, along with their logo, to what will become the go-to resource for what’s open in the county during the coronavirus pandemic.
Business representatives can visit https://www.westcenter.org/open-for-business and click the Submit Your Business Information link. They then can complete the requested information, indicating the type of business – automotive, grocery store, hardware, restaurant, retail, location in the county and any special Covid-19 accommodations, such as senior shopping hours, curbside pick-ups, hours of operation, and more. Businesses may also submit their logo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
West Business Development Center Executive Director, Mary Anne Petrillo, said, “We recognized the need to have a centralized resource for county residents to find reliable information about what businesses are providing services during this trying time. We hope to have this become a continuing marketplace once the crisis has safely passed.”
In addition to the business listings, West Center is taking a proactive stance on presenting timely, relevant information helpful to small businesses around the county including webinars and federal and state agencies’ directives. Coronavirus business resources are listed at https://www.westcenter.org/covid-19-business-resources and a developing series of online workshops and webinars are at https://www.westcenter.org/live-workshops.
West Center encourages all small businesses in the county to visit their website at www.westcenter.org for the latest business-related news and information about upcoming webinars.