Local business community overwhelmingly supportive of current response to COVID-19 in
St. Charles County, according to EDC online survey
More than 75 percent rated the local response by officials and organizations to COVID-19 in St. Charles County as excellent and/or good, according to a three-week online survey about the current public health emergency conducted by the Economic Development Center (EDC) of St. Charles County.
A total of 214 people participated in the survey from April 13th through May 1st. Most respondents self-identified as either a business owner (37.5 percent) or a for-profit business employee (25.83 percent). The third largest group was not-for-profit employees (17.5 percent).
Efforts at many levels to get the word out to the business community about helpful resources clearly worked as 68.25 percent said they were aware of the CARES Act, EIDL and PPP programs, SBA loan forgiveness and free business counseling from the Missouri SBDC and EDC.
Asked about their suggestions for the reopening phase of the emergency, 97.06 percent participated, offering 165 comments. For suggestions about longer term recovery, 75.29 participated, offering 128 comments.
As expected, feedback included calls for clear and consistent guidelines, protecting at-risk populations, more testing and PPE, social distancing, caution, common sense, personal liberty, economic concerns and carefully reopening.
“I think the information provided to companies of all types has been spot on and those companies that are open seem to have all the right safeguards in place such as social distancing, cleansing techniques, reduced hours, face masks, etc.,” said Rick Willmann, Senior Manager AMS and Facilities for National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) in Lake Saint Louis. “It has been great to see how many people are simply helping other people during these trying times.”
Many others also recognized the healthcare heroes in the community. “Having worked in healthcare for over 40 years in St. Charles County, I have been impressed with the actions taken, the communication and the teamwork,” one survey respondent wrote, “Example: SSM, Mercy, BJC and St. Luke’s working together, and the response from our citizens. I have been through AIDS, SARS, Legionnaire’s just to name a few and we have never dealt with anything of this magnitude. The teamwork in this community has in general, been amazing.”
“The EDC is on record thanking St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann and Missouri Governor Mike Parson for their steady leadership during the outbreak of this virus and for their calibrated, data-driven approach to beginning the reopening phases of social and business life,” said EDC President & CEO Scott J. Drachnik.
He also highlighted local grass roots efforts that made a positive difference during the first phase of responding to the crisis. One example he listed was St. Charles All Together/STAT, a volunteer business group who raised $50,000, delivered 4,500 meals to healthcare workers at SSM, BJC and Mercy hospitals from nearly 50 locally-owned restaurants over a three week period.
Another example is the Inventor Forge MakerSpace in the EDC Incubator who partnered with local high school tech groups to play a big role in a regional effort to use 3D printers to produce 30,000 face shields for hospitals and medical staff in metro St. Louis and New Mexico.
“We are only in the middle of the first phase of reopening social and business life in St. Charles County. So far, so good. But by every measure, we have a long road ahead to pursue full business and workforce recovery because of the economic impact of COVID-19,” Drachnik said. “Protecting life is always the first priority. Protecting the life of our economy, businesses, and the ability of people to provide for their families is equally important. We can pursue both as we work together and are St. Charles County Strong.”
Under the Show-Me Strong Recovery Plan issued by the Missouri Governor and being followed by St. Charles County since May 4th, the current guidelines for phase one of reopening are in effect until May 31st.