City of Plantation Podcast

Episode 12 - Small Business Resources - Siobhan Edwards

May 25, 2020 City of Plantation Episode 12
City of Plantation Podcast
Episode 12 - Small Business Resources - Siobhan Edwards
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the City of Plantation Podcast. In this episode we speak with Siobhan Edwards, the President of the Plantation Chamber of Commerce. We speak about the resources available to Small Business owners and how our amazing Plantation residents can support our Plantation small businesses, in a safe manner. This Podcast is aimed at keeping the residents of Plantation informed regarding how the City and its various Departments are responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Please subscribe to this podcast, as we will be producing new episodes on a regular basis.

Guest: Siobhan Edwards
Hosts: EMS Division Chief (Acting) Ezra Lubow
Produced by: Ezra Lubow
Music: Oakwood Station - Summer Breeze Memories
Cover Art: The City of Plantation

Speaker 1:

Hello plantation. Welcome to the city of plantations podcast. I'm dr Jay formerly with plantation information radio. Thank you for tuning in. We hope the information provided within the episodes of this podcast helped keep you, your family and your friends safe during this pandemic.

Speaker 2:

On this episode we're pleased to be joined by the president of plantations chamber of commerce. Chavon Edwards. Chavonne welcome to the city's podcast.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much for having me and inviting me to take place in this podcast during this very strange time we have , uh , in our city.

Speaker 2:

So we know that the chamber has taken a leadership role when it comes to supporting our small business community and providing some advice or support during this pandemic. So you want to give us some details about some of those activities that the chamber has been involved in?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Um, as most everyone knows, this was something that no one could prepare for. No elected officials, no representatives, no chambers of commerce. This is something that is so foreign to all of us. We at the chamber are usually solution-based. A problem arises and we think about it and we have a plan of action and address it. This however has come with no rule books, nothing examples that we can go by to say this is what was done in the past and this will work. So what we have done is, or I personally have done, is really think on your feet. And we talked to other people and I spend a lot of time on the internet seeing what other cities are doing, not just in Broward County but around the nation. What's working, what are they doing, what are their taglines? What have they found to be effective to try to get a commerce back up and running. Nobody expected this to take this much time though. Um , we don't want to open up unsafely. We as a chamber of commerce are business driven. So we want to support the businesses, assist them in reopening and but reopening with safe Covidien , 19 procedures in place.

Speaker 2:

Right. And you had mentioned earlier that a lot of things are trial and error. Can you explain that a little?

Speaker 3:

Well, the thing is is that we , number one, we never expected that the businesses would be opened in phases when that was made aware to us and which businesses were considered essential versus non-essential and who was making those decisions. And we were surprised on some of that decision making of which , uh , businesses, how they were deemed essential versus nonessential . And that also surprised our business owners who some felt they were essential versus non-essential and we won't go into too much. But one of the biggest ones was the gyms , which is a huge that's going on right now here in Broward County where some cities have deemed them phase one reopen where other cities have not deemed them essential phase one reopen. And so we are , I at the chamber have really tried to be very sensitive that every business is considered essential to our economic security in the city. So do we want them to open up as quick as quickly as possible? Absolutely. But we have to temper it with safety first. Right. And so what we really encourage is education and that's something that we've been doing with the chamber is getting out the information from the state. What are the steps that need to be taken to open your business safely? And that's a point that we really definitely want to bring home and safety, meaning wear your masks, wash your hands, follow the protocols that you've been sent out. Some of the protocols that have been put in place have put another burden on the business owner, whereas it's an additional expense that they're having to outlay at a time where they have had no income coming in. So it's like a cause and effect. If we make an adjustment over here, then it creates a ripple effect. Correct? 100% and we also have to be very careful because as it is and so often happens in South Florida, your cure for the disease is a financial burden that was unexpected. And for some reason we see businesses who take advantage of the situation and that's what we also are trying to do with the chamber is put the information out there that here is a plantation business that wants to help you, that are doing solutions at cost-effective manners. Don't jump online, Google what you need and pay triple the price. The majority of the fixes for your business can be found locally called the chamber of commerce. Look on our website, see what businesses are offering to assist you. Because the majority of fixes as I really want to bring this point home can be found locally. Right , right. So in that kind of breeze me or leads me into another question, which is how have you seen the community respond to assisting their local businesses? What have you seen in that respect from our residents implantation? Well, we're very fortunate in plantation. We have amazing residents here and they are long time residents. And one of the things that I've seen, I've been here for 40 years. I look and you understand though, we are almost 90,000 residents in our small little city here. We have maintained that small town support one, another feeling of our city. So when you put the outreaches out on social media, which is something the plantation chamber did and I partnered with the mayor , um, about a month ago is the project which you see out and about in the city, which is a dine and support our plantation small businesses or shop and support our plantation small businesses. It's a way to get ahead of it, to remind you to really and truly go back to the small town feeling of supporting the small business owner. You can Google, you can Amazon, you can have these sent to you. But as I repeat, all of these things can still be found locally. And remember one of the kind of chamber rules is small businesses are the ones who sponsor your children's pal league teams. They are the ones that you go to when you're looking for donations for your auctions, for the schools. They're the ones who support the American cancer society relay for life. It's your small business owners. It's not Amazon, it's not a Google business that's coming from another state or possibly another country. It's your small business owner. And if you don't maintain your small businesses, that's where you lose a city. And it's so important to remember that. Do I want everybody to remain healthy and follow the guidelines? Yes, but follow the guidelines by remembering to try to, if you possibly can, shop local, right ? All of our small business owners in plantation understand the importance of these guidelines and they're following them, right? You're not going to go into a business implantation on for the majority where they are not following the guidelines. So feel safe to go to your small businesses, wash your hands, put your mask on. Be cognizant that you might be standing outside the door for a moment so that they keep their, a number of patrons to what is the correct number, which right now is 50% so if you have a little small business, a mom and pop store that traditionally you would go in and you would be elbow to elbow or shoulder to shoulder, which we all love. That type of shopping. You're not going to have that for right now. You're going to go in and there may be only two or three other patrons in the store. You may have to call ahead and make an appointment to come in shop. If you have a fear or you have an underlying condition where you do not want to be in shopping with other patrons, every small business owner that we've spoken with will actually make an appointment where you can come before their regular store hours or after the stores so you can feel comfortable to go in and shop alone

Speaker 2:

and accommodate. And those are the individuals, right? Where I think now we're starting to focus on is the elderly population , uh , anybody with preexisting conditions that make

Speaker 3:

them more susceptible? Yes . So we're saying is our small businesses in plantation are completely willing to make accommodation 100% to set aside time for that segment. That's 100% and the other thing too that we also want to bring a point to is that just because you look at a person and you have a young healthy looking gentlemen who you say, well what are they worried about? Why are they have a mascot? What ? What are you doing that person you don't know. But at home they could have their wife who is fighting breast cancer, they could have a child who has asthma. What this is, is precautions for others. Don't take everything at face value that you feel that these are unnecessary. These are steps that are put in place by experts who deem them necessary. Right? I may not understand it. You may not understand it, but it's not our job right now to understand it. It's our job to be a community, recognize humanity and just please take these precautions. They're not a big deal. We're not asking you for a lot. Put a mask on, wash your hands. And that's it. You know, quite honestly that sums up the , the ultimate message we've been trying to put forward on this podcast, which is, you know, have some patients with your neighbor . Absolutely right. Everyone's got their own personal struggle and I think it's a really good point you make because a young healthy looking individual might be battling diabetes and you can't outward see that makes them more susceptible and 100% caustic point. So I think we talked about the resources that are available to assist local businesses. Is there anything you want to add to that or anything we didn't, we didn't cover as far as that's concerned? Well I think one of the resources that we would like people to take advantage of is there are some tremendous websites for the city. The city of plantation is plantation.org. The chamber is a plantation, chamber.org. We're all linked together. We try to keep as much updated information on that as possible. Uh, like the city's Facebook page, like the Chamber's Facebook page, there is information that is updated there on a daily, we try to send out at least twice a day emails, letting you know different , um , executive orders that have come down from either the governor, the Broward County mayor Dale wholeness, or our mayor, mayor stoner. Everybody is working together to disseminate, disseminate, excuse me , uh , correct information. Do not be fooled by different things that are put on different people's social media pages that say, well, I heard this, I heard that. Do not get suckered into believing everything you read on Facebook. Are you saying that there aren't a hundred million experts on Facebook when it comes to things? Unfortunately , there are not. And I also want to say I do not consider myself an, but what I do do is I go to the people that know and disseminate their information. Did not think that this is mine. I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I am just an executive director who is working very hard to keep our plantation businesses strong.

Speaker 2:

And , and that's where we're all at, right? None of us are really experts when it comes to disease. And we're following the guidelines. We're listening to the leadership from the medical community and the administrative and executives at the state and local governments . So I think that's a very good point.

Speaker 3:

Are you seeing that, that are local

Speaker 2:

businesses are taking advantage of these resources or are they engaging, asking for help?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. 100% and um , though it's not as timely. I was speaking with some of our branch managers of our local banks who , um , one of the things that we learned during this crisis, how important it is to have a relationship with a banker. Um, it is, has become so apparent that relationships are the key to everything. And if you have a relationship with your local bank, when it came time to fall, filing the applications for the PPP loans, it was critical to go to your bank that you had a relationship with because the majority of the banks would not fill your loan application if you were not a prior customer. Right? So we saw a fortunately enough implantation, we do have some amazing local banks with amazing people who have relationships with our plantation business owners and their success rate in getting the PPP loans have been amazing. And that's another, you know , we talk about all of the unsung heroes and not every superhero wears a Cape. If you want to look at some unsung heroes, look at your local bankers who are working seven days a week to help their customers get these P P P P P loans , uh , filled and the money generated into their accounts because that has been , um, that's been a difficult phase because as we all saw, a lot of the funds were depleted very quickly to some of the fortune 500 companies, which none of us saw that coming. And when the money was returned, you saw more money's being released again to the smaller business owner. And if you don't know what the PPP loan is, that is a loan that is almost like a grant where in some cases it does not have to be paid back or in other cases it's at a very small interest rate. And that helps cover paying your employees, their paychecks each week and your leasing fees, et cetera . And it has been a lifeblood to keep these small businesses own open. Not every business received because not every business had a relationship with a small a bank or you had an amazing , um, uh , accountant that could help you. If you're a small business owner, you're trying to do this by yourself online, it's near impossible. Right ?

Speaker 2:

And I'm sure that depending on the business, I'm sure anybody who starts a business of their own right, they have a base level of knowledge for, for business and entrepreneurship. But I would, I would go on a limb and say that there are varying degrees of experience and knowledge,

Speaker 3:

100% correct. And we are, I personally have made it my business to be available because I may not be able to help you personally, but I know how to put you in touch with a person who can help you. And that's what we keep saying. The whole key to this , uh , survival is relationships. It's relationship building. And that's what plantation is built on. It's built on relationships. And that's what we are doing at the chamber is I've been the executive director of there for 25 years. I have built a base of people that you know to turn to that are experts in what they do. And at this time you really don't want to call your uncle Joe who lives in another state and he's going to help you. You need to keep it local, have your relationship with your banker, have your relationship with the CPA, have your relationship with the account and an accountant that can help you navigate through these really strange waters.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think, and like you said earlier, I mean everyone's learning as they go. There's a lot of trial and error and even navigating, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but even navigating some of the statutory changes in the grant and the unlocking of funds, I mean now has been a nightmare.

Speaker 3:

It's been a nightmare. You are absolutely 100% correct. And when you realize that you have a small business owner and they call and they say, well, my loan is in and it says it's being reviewed. If I don't get that money within the next few days, I'm not only am I not going to be able to pay my employees, I am now, I am to two months behind in my, my home mortgage, I am behind in here. And these people, they need that lifeline. So we have been really trying to help them negotiate through this crisis.

Speaker 2:

And I think sometimes we forget or maybe we just get wrapped up in, in life and what's going on in our own personal lives. But I think we forget that this is a, a web, right? Everything's integrated. So this small business is not able to pay their employee, their employee is not able to pay their caregiver or supply , support their children or pay their rent. This lease owner who's struggling because right. It just goes on and on and on and on. So I think that's a really good point, is that we need to keep in mind that keeping the small businesses a flow and alive and them is

Speaker 3:

what keeps that web connected. Absolutely. And , and in that turn you also see when people are still receiving their paycheck, they in turn have the resources to go out and dine in the restaurants . They have the resources to still go and pick up a mother's day gift . They have the resources to go pick up a tie at Macy's for dad, for father's day. It's all of these things, as you say, are so interconnected. So addressing are the community, right? Not the businesses but the community. In your mind, how do you feel the community more than just going out and ordering food or supporting the restaurants, eateries and shopping locally? Yes. For what you can. Is there any other advice you would give the residents a plantation of the community or on ways they can support their small businesses? Well, I tell you what, I'll , I'll, I'll digress for a second and see some of the things that you see that are positive out of this. I was trying to find something positive in any situation. So one of the things that I noted to begin with is when all of a sudden you started seeing families out riding their bikes together, that's a positive. You see them out getting some fresh air, you see them on exercising, you look on social media and you see they're all swimming in the pool together. Everybody's getting physical and not everybody, I can't say I'm one of those people, I'm the one sitting in front of my computer screen eating Doritos. That's another story. But the things you see that are positive are getting back to what we call community. Right . And I also think that one of the positives of this is if we can say you're reconnecting with your neighbors, you're not, nobody's going to work. And coming home and pulling the car in the garage, shutting the door. There's an old, there's um , Sebastian medicos at a Scalzo comedian and he does a bit in the old days when the doorbell rang, everybody was like, great, we have company coming over. We have become that society where like hose bothering me at six o'clock at night. I don't want company. Or now you see people wanting to get out onto the street, they want to have that face to face contact. You see all of a sudden on a Sunday, now you'll have these, whether it's right or wrong, you see these gatherings either at a Starbucks in a circle where they brought their lawn chairs because we in plantation, we're social. We want to be out there. You , um, I see those things as positive and I don't see that going away. It brings you back to the old days, but when you have a hurricane and after the hurricane, all of a sudden we all reconnect with our neighbors. We're all out there helping our neighbors cut the trees down where we are now commiserating about who's got a generator in their refrigerator, still working, where can you go to get a hot shower? Those are positive things that come out of this. And that's what I sort of see happening right now in plantation is yes, do we have an immense amount of negatives? We absolutely do, but do we have some positives that are happening? We absolutely do.

Speaker 2:

Right, right. Absolutely. Well , I mean that's pretty much a wrap as far as you know , the questions that we had for you. Is there anything we left out that you want to fill in or,

Speaker 3:

well, you know as we talk about things, you know, still happening and business still goes on and other ways. I can give you a personal experience. Last Monday we came into work at the chamber, turned down the thermostat on the air conditioner and heard a pop and all of a sudden we had smoke coming out of our fence and was like, Oh Lord. We called nine one one and who showed up? But the plantation fire department and a plantation police officer, they had all their gear on, went up into our crawlspace , found it was the air conditioner. And those are the things that though we're all worrying about how things affect us. Remember you call nine one one plantation response and they respond immediately. They were there within, I'm going to say maybe two and a half minutes in a full fire truck with firefighters on board. So I want everyone to know that though it is a strange time. The one thing that we can take away from our city is we're still operating. We're still there for you. You pick up the phone, they're there, there's no, there's no services that have been stopped, slowed down, anything in any way. Plantation will always be here for you as a resident, as a business owner.

Speaker 2:

And we, you know, we say it, we say it on every episode. We really, it is not a tagline for us, it's not a , you know, something silly to say. We truly, honestly feel that we are all in this together. We all have a role to play. Right. And we certainly appreciate you and the Chamber's efforts in helping our small businesses and in our community and getting that integration and getting the help they need. So thank you very much

Speaker 3:

while we're talking about taglines, but that was something that I came up with probably two months ago and it's the hashtag we are stronger together plantation. And it really is true because we all work together. And before this, after this, realize that we , we are a unique city because primarily you get involved, you know, people, you know who your friends are. You wave, you say hello. It's a , from the 4th of July parade holiday parades. You get to know who your firefighters are. You get to know your police officers, your mayor, your elected officials. Uh, our public school teachers, we are a community that is truly stronger because we work together.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, Yvonne , thank you very much. We appreciate your time and uh , keep on, you know , keep on keeping on. I take care. Thank you . You've been listening to the city of plantation podcast here in plantation. We're working hard to bring you the latest, most accurate information available about the Corona virus pandemic. Remember, if you

Speaker 1:

have specific questions, you can email them to ask [email protected] don't forget to visit the Cobra 19 page on our website and register forever bridge for up to the minute changes regarding the outbreak. We want to thank you for tuning in and taking the time to listen to the experts about how to keep yourselves, your family and your business safe and healthy during the crisis . And don't forget to wash your hands, cover your cough and maintain a safe distance.