Small businesses are suffering the hardest economic hits, at least immediately, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s according to David Black (pictured), president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDC), encompassing Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties.
“Small businesses typically have the least amount of bandwidth,” Black said on the April edition of TheBurg Podcast, released today. “If you’re a restaurant, you can’t work from home—there are some real challenges with the small businesses. Larger businesses are operating and have people working from home.”
Chamber membership is comprised of about 1,000 member businesses and nonprofits representing a workforce of 120,000.
Right now, Black said the chamber and CREDC’s 15 employees are focused on connecting area businesses with information such as the $350 billion, federally funded Paycheck Protection Program.
Last week, the organizations worked around the clock to help process Harrisburg-area businesses’ applications for the state’s COVID-19 Working Capital Assistance Program, which Black calls a “gallant effort of $60 million cobbled together from within the state budget.”
Applications to that program exceeded state funding within the first few hours.
Black said members are craving two things during this time of social distancing: information and interaction. That’s why both organizations continue to hold board meetings as scheduled—via phone—and some social events, via Zoom videoconferencing.
As the pandemic and its economic effects continue to unfold, Black remained optimistic for the Harrisburg region’s long-term economic health.
“Historically, central PA has always been a strong region,” Black said. “The big question is, ‘How long does it take to get back?’”
To hear more of Dave Black’s interview and insights, listen to TheBurg Podcast, released today.
For more information on COVID-19 programs and resources such as loans, see the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corporation’s website at https://www.harrisburgregionalchamber.org/.