A message from the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO
The last few weeks have been a challenging time for our economy and residents. As California begins to look at feasible ways to reopen the economy, much of the work the GCVCC is doing is focused on the same task locally. I wanted to offer our members a brief overview of where that work stands.
One of the more striking developments of the last week has been the narrative that has developed around the potential reopening of our economy. Some seem to feel strongly the economy should not be reopened until COVID-19 is eradicated entirely, some feel strongly the economy should never have been closed at all, with varying opinions falling between the spectrum. As a chamber of commerce that also runs a community support hotline, you can imagine the sheer volume of conversations my team and I have had over the last few weeks. A common theme has emerged, whether it is our neighbor, an elected official or a news reporter, our view of how and when we reopen the economy is often shaped by our personal circumstances and world view.
Why do I bring this up? To highlight the importance of having many voices in the room when important decisions are made. On April 27th, the GCVCC Board of Directors met to discuss the chambers position on reopening the Coachella Valley economy. The GCVCC Board is very diverse (full list of representatives can be found HERE), coming from across the Coachella Valley and representing a wide-range of industries, professional classifications, career experience and personal viewpoints. After robust discussion, the GCVCC sent Supervisor V. Manuel Perez a correspondence that expressed the collective viewpoint of the chamber, a copy of that letter can be found HERE. We Cc’d our local board of directors and cities we partner with so there would be no confusion of messaging coming from our organization.
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has since formed the Riverside County Economic Recovery Task Force. It is represented by 17 economic professionals from across Riverside County’s various Districts. The full list of members can be found HERE. The economic recovery task force has been formed to provide recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on restarting the local economy and preparing to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been meeting daily in two hour sessions since it was launched, working diligently to do just that. While that task force works regionally, the Coachella Valley Economic Recovery Team (CVERT) that the GCVCC, CVEP, County EDA and Greater Palm Springs CVB jointly formed is doing similar work on a local level, working in conjunction with all nine of our local cities.
I want to reassure all our members, the GCVCC will continue to do what you expect of us – lead. We have worked diligently to supply the latest information to our members and the community regarding financial support and regulatory developments, we have engaged in community support of our local front line health care workers, and we have worked to support the local community through our open support hotline. But through all of that, know that the GCVCC has not lost site of our primary mission. Chambers of commerce should be at their core advocacy organizations that represent the collective interest of members and the local economy, and we will continue to fulfill that role. With the Coachella Valley now facing unemployment projected to reach 31.9% in May and the closure of over 4,700 local businesses (see the full CVEP report HERE) taking a stand on behalf of our local economy has never been so vital.
We also understand that the Chambers work will not be done when things start to reopen, it will just be starting. Some of the issues we anticipate having to tackle in conjunction with local leadership over the months ahead include:
- Sourcing and procurement of PPE.
- Dissemination of regulations that are likely to filter down through multiple layers of government, including OSHA, County of Riverside Health Department, and more, helping our local businesses to make sense of it and reach compliance.
- Monitoring legal challenges and private suits that have the potential to impact local Coachella Valley economic verticals.
- Continued information push on available economic recovery assistance programs on the local, state and federal level.
- Community and organic marketing support, particularly in the area of health and safety – how to convey a sense of safety to potential customers.
- Economic data gathering and application.
The Chamber will continue to work in as efficient manner as possible to tackle these and other obstacles that lay ahead for our business community. Reopening will be the start of our recovery process, not the end.
I anticipate additional opportunities to work on industry specific challenges and advocacy to arise in the days ahead. If you would like to find out how you can personally help us with these efforts, please contact me directly. Whatever your circumstances or availability, there is a role for everyone to play in getting our local economy back on track.
Joshua R. Bonner, IOM
President and CEO
Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce