The following is an op-ed piece authored by Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts
I don’t think any of us could have imagined what has transpired over the last week. The coronavirus has not only plagued the world as a public health pandemic, but it has very quickly devastated our economy and upended our normal business and daily routines.
Our new reality includes shocking statistics like more than 9,000 people filing for unemployment insurance benefits in Kentucky in a single day as necessary restrictions force tough decisions by our state’s businesses.
Most of these unemployment claims came from the small businesses in our Kentucky communities, many of which are run by entrepreneurs facing permanent closure of the dreams they worked so hard to build. It is heartbreaking.
However, even in the midst of this national emergency, the business community is stepping up to answer the call to be a good neighbor and are showing leadership in an incredibly trying time. Utility companies have suspended the disconnection of services for non-paying customers. Retail companies have maintained their supply chains and restocked the bare shelves caused by irrational panic. Manufacturers are contributing their ventilators to assist health care providers. Our health care facilities continue to serve on the front lines of this pandemic and prepare for the potential influx of new patients. This collective effort underscores our commitment to help ease your burdens and concerns during this stressful period.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is doing everything we can to ensure our state gets through this difficult time. Making sure your business survives and recovers quickly from this evolving pandemic is our only focus. That’s why we have created an open line of communication where businesses can get their most pressing questions answered. The Chamber has designed a “one-stop-shop” for businesses at kychamber.com/coronavirus, which offers daily updates and the latest information on COVID-19. Our dedicated staff has worked tirelessly around the clock to help answer these questions and provide essential resources for your business.
The Chamber continues to work closely with Governor Andy Beshear and his administration to minimize the pain being felt by Kentucky businesses. Specifically, we appreciate their work to make sure those who have been laid off can obtain unemployment insurance and that small businesses can secure loans.
The General Assembly is also considering relief measures. It is vital to provide immediate relief to citizens and to situate businesses for a strong come back when we are on the other side of the pandemic. We are committed to working with lawmakers on a daily basis to help make this happen.
We’ve all been hit and the reality is that more measures may come to help flatten the curve to keep us and our loved ones safe. We will get through this, we will be stronger, and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is here to help make that happen.