Last updated 4/8/2020 at 8:55am
By the time you read this it will probably be old news, and because of that, it is hard to answer most of the questions the Chamber receives including, “How will the virus affect the community’s economy?”
Before I try to even go there, I want to congratulate the business owners and residents of the area who rallied quickly and patiently, accepting the continuous changing status regarding events, the Farmer’s Market, businesses status, and social distancing. There are too many wonderful locals to name, but please note everyone appreciates what you are doing for the community. I do want to give a special nod to Borrego Springs Elementary for the meal program implemented for children in these difficult times.
On the flip side, the Chamber is getting calls from concerned residents and visitors about social media posts telling visitors to stay away in an aggressive manner. This is unproductive. We cannot keep people out of Borrego, however, we can stress they follow the CDC’s guidelines posted throughout the community for everyone’s safety. Remember, these same people might be future homeowners, business owners or regular visitors. At some point, their income will be needed for the area to survive.
As for the Farmer’s Market, a huge thank you goes to Sandra Mikovich for her constant monitoring of if the market can be open or not. Hours were spent asking questions, requesting information and getting back to the vendors, and the County. As it stands, the market is open for food vendors only.
Also, Debbie Woollet deserves a major high-five for the Chamber Weekly Special Editions. We asked the local businesses to inform us of their status so we could spread the word. The response was overwhelming, however, often changed within an eight hour time frame. Debbie was making changes until she pressed the send button, and then it was out of our hands, only to follow up with a new eblast within a couple of days. We hope to be back to our once a week eblast soon, but we will continue to do our best to assist everyone.
On the Chamber website, there is information on the home page with links for small business assistance.
At the Chamber, we’ve been working behind the scenes on projects that need to be done, caught up, etc. Much of it is time consuming paperwork, clean up, and getting ready for when life gets back to normal and the visitors return, which they will.
You’ll also notice a landscaping project at the Chamber, this had already been scheduled and funded through a grant with a deadline use. We want the businesses that can be open to continue working, so please support them because it will help balance the economy sooner rather than later.
So how will the virus affect Borrego Springs economically, same as across the country – hard! Last year between March and May, we had over 2,000 visitors to the Chamber, and that number is probably on the low side because when the Chamber suddenly fills up with visitors it’s easy for us to lose count. Think about the business lost in a three month time frame this year; Borrego will have business casualties.
When any business closes for lack of customers, the obvious is there. In dollar amounts, no one will know for a while because we’ll have to see who reopens and who doesn’t. One thing we know for certain is that Borrego Springs is a tourist destination and the tourists are knocking at our doorsteps to come.
Wisely, we cannot embrace them with open arms, but ask that they give us time like any other area to safe guard ourselves, however, for the ones that do come we need to appreciate the fact that they are spending dollars, and we should make them feel welcome so in the future they’ll always #embraceborrego!
Françoise Rhodes, Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce Executive Director