In our nation’s infancy, 1793 to be precise, yellow fever struck Philadelphia and caused many of the same disruptions we’re seeing in our region today.
When the days were their darkest, Stephen Girard, a banker who would become the wealthiest man in America by the time of his death, took charge of the city’s hospital and not only managed its affairs but nursed the infirmed with his own two hands. This sense of individual responsibility to neighbor, colleague and community is what will see us through our current crisis. One person can make a difference.
We’re seeing businesses in our region take up Girard’s mantle through various acts of quiet heroics.
Keith Baldwin, who heads our Chamber’s Small Business Board, serves as CEO of Spikes Trophies in Philadelphia and is working to keep his colleagues on the job. To avoid layoffs, Spike’s Trophies partnered with a company called AnswerNet to reposition employees to work as schedulers to book appointments for people needing COVID-19 tests. Keith and the team are stepping up and helping where needed as are so many area businesses.
Another Chamber member, American Solutions for Business, a distributor of print and promotional products is reimagining their supply chain to get our region’s health care providers the personal protective equipment they need.
And, Philadelphia-based FMC Corporation, a global powerhouse in chemical manufacturing, donated some 165,000 masks to five major health systems in our region, including Penn Medicine, Jefferson Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Temple University Health System, and ChristianaCare, to assist frontline health care workers. FMC utilized the Chamber’s list of organizations seeking personal protective equipment donations to identify institutions that need supplies.
Our friends at Holt Construction in Philadelphia are building mobile testing sites that are safe and sterile for citizens and the health care workers who are on the job site. According to Holt, they hope to build and deploy 12 units per week to help increase access to safe testing sites in our region and around the country.
While your company might not be able to directly support the crisis with medical supplies, there are ways we can look ahead to the time beyond the pandemic and shore up our regional economy through the targeted support of our small businesses.
The City of Philadelphia and PIDC launched the Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund to provide grants and zero-interest loans to Philadelphia’s small businesses. We invite organizations to consider making a grant through PIDC Community Capital, a 501(c)(3), to scale the impact of this fund with the aim of helping the small and micro businesses in our community. If you’re interested in making a grant to the fund, email me at [email protected] and we’ll get you connected.
Rob Wonderling is the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.