In response to the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic and the rapidly evolving set of challenges it presents for businesses and workers, in addition to public health, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce has launched a Rapid Response tool on its website.
Sacramento Metro Chamber President and CEO Amanda Blackwood says the impetus for the website was to help small businesses more easily find rules, regulations and opportunities that affect them in one place. The organization worked with 3fold Communications, a Sacramento marketing and advertising agency, and other partners to quickly develop the tool.
“If you’re a small business, you’re trying to navigate nine different websites,” Blackwood says. “How might we have just one place that you can go? That was kind of the brainchild of this.”
With the tagline, “We’re in this together,” the website offers assistance for both employers and employees. This includes links to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides low-interest loans of as much as $2 million. Blackwood says at the federal level, the SBA has as much as $60 billion in funding available.
There’s also a link on the site to the City of Sacramento’s $1 million Economic Relief Loan Program for the crisis, with interest-free loans of as much as $25,000 per business. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg applauds the chamber’s efforts.
“The worst thing would be to have some form of a scattershot approach where nobody knew where to turn or who to call, and what (Blackwood) and the chamber’s done is (set) up a user-friendly, one-stop shop (with) access to all of the subject matter experts to be able to help small businesses get what they need,” Steinberg says.
Work remains for the new Rapid Response portal, with Blackwood saying the website will be updated each evening with information the Metro Chamber receives during the day.
She also says the chamber is working to get a business hotline up and running by the end of this week “so that folks use the website, get the information, you can send us emails, but you also want to talk to a person, and I get that.”
Aside from the Rapid Response tool, Blackwood says the chamber’s Small Business Development Center, which receives SBA funding, offers free one-on-one counseling. She also says the Sacramento Municipal Utility District has a variety of procurement and small business programs that could be beneficial to companies at this time. “I am glad for getting access to programs that exist that were perhaps underleveraged,” Blackwood says.
Full disclosure: The author of this piece sometimes does freelance content and copywriting work for the marketing and advertising agency that designed the Rapid Response program. He was not involved in the project.