This is what leadership looks like
These trying times can bring out the best and worst in people. So far, the best is winning.
With the news of COVID-19 changing moment by moment, it’s hard to keep up. Colorado’s ski mountains are closed. All major sports leagues have gone dark, and so has Broadway. Kids across America are home from college, and local schools have followed suit.
Here in Eagle County, across Colorado, and across the country, life is changing, too. Meetings have been cancelled, the global tourism industry is severely impacted, businesses that have not temporarily closed have ramped up cleaning procedures, and all of us are taking extra precautions. It is an unprecedented time, causing uncertainty across the community.
So what to do? I don’t have a good answer to that, but I suggest we can be supportive and be empathic to others. Check in on, and help, your neighbors. It is not about coming out of this as the winner, it’s about supporting each other and ensuring community and continuity.
I would like to thank our government officials and leaders who are making the tough choices to shut down events, schools and public gatherings, and private sector leaders who are taking proactive measures to prevent community spread. I’d like to thank our first responders and our medical professionals. And I’d like to thank our merchants and front line grocery store employees. They are examples of what leadership looks like.
Saying people need to “calm down” instead of taking preventative action is not only reckless and naive but grossly negligent. This is not about taking away a person’s choice to attend an event or a class. This is about preventing our health systems from being overwhelmed by a highly contagious virus. Look at what is happening in Italy & France; closer to home, look at Seattle.
Government officials and leaders are making hard decisions. They are working hard to do their part. We’re working at the Partnership, too. Working to support our local business community with communications efforts; to share information and insights with business managers and owners; and to connect our businesses with the tools and resources from regional, state, and federal partners.
After all, small business is our community. 90% of our businesses employ 20 or less people – these are your neighbors and friends. Many of the businesses that enhance your quality of life operate on small margins and will be greatly impacted by COVID-19.
While bigger companies can absorb temporary losses, there are many small business that will struggle. These are extremely uncertain and trying times, and it is unclear if it will get better before it gets worse.
I could go on, but know that helping to support local businesses, while always important, is crucial at a time like this. We need them to be around not only next week or next month, but for years to come. Let’s support them, where we are able, to get them through this time of uncertainty.
Supporting these businesses now will enable them to keep paying their staff and keep businesses viable in our community. If you want to support those in the community at the highest risk, consider volunteering with the Community Market or Salvation Army. If you’re simply looking for the latest information, visit our business resource site or Eagle County’s website at ecemergency.org
We will share more business resources and tools in the days and weeks ahead. With the situation evolving rapidly, we encourage you to follow any guidance offered by the CDC and local and state public health authorities.
Thank our medical professionals.
Support your neighbors.
And let’s all look forward to better times ahead.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com