Mill Street was busy with shoppers and diners at lunch on Aug. 20, 2020, as the downtown Chilliwack area kicked off a three-day Walk and Shop event. Businesses were encouraged to participate by the Downtown Chilliwack Business Improvement Association. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Many Chilliwack businesses say they’re ‘okay’ for another six months

Local economy continues to recover from losses and closures due to COVID-19 pandemic

The future isn’t looking as bleak business-wise in Chilliwack as it did at the beginning of the pandemic, according to Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce officials.

The Chamber has been consulting with local businesses through a survey, where the most common response about the future is showing some positive trends, said Chamber executive director Leanna Kemp.

“The leading response to the question of ‘Where are you today?’ has most respondents saying that they are OK for six months or longer,” she added.

Many businesses downtown closed in mid-March at the start of the pandemic, when numbers were quite high and little was understood about transmission of COVID-19.

Many of them tepidly opened back up again in May, and now there are even new businesses popping up in once-empty storefronts.

The Chamber, as well as the Downtown Chilliwack Business Improvement Association (BIA), are both optimistic that things are looking up for the local economy.

The BIA hosted a three-day Walk and Shop Event in August to get people back into the downtown core supporting local shops. And the Chamber will continue to support new and established businesses navigate a new way of business.

READ MORE: Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce highlights major developments in video tour

They are hosting meetings to keep business owners connected, and have a “Zoom Huddle” booked for Sept. 30. They’ll also be doing a business walk in October, where Chamber directors connect with as many businesses as possible.

They are collecting all of this information to help guide the efforts of the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network, as well as Chamber initiatives. They also share out information about outside efforts to give relief to businesses.

The most recent would be the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, which was made available at the end of August. The fund aims to help small Canadian businesses with their recovery efforts as a result of COVID-19, and is to be managed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national Chamber network in support of other chambers and partners.

Relief grants can be used for things like purchasing PPE, including masks, face shields and latex gloves, renovations, and developing or improving e-commerce capabilities. Grants are available up to $5,000. More information is available at https://occ.ca/canada-united-small-business-relief-fund/.

To learn more about the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network, see the Events link on chilliwackchamber.com.

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