The past year has been one of adversity that has pushed many of us to our limits— The hardship we have faced has been unprecedented and the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially felt by our local businesses.
Small businesses are the backbone of our community, and few have felt the economic sting of the COVID-19 pandemic as keenly as our local shops.
As difficult and challenging as the year has been our shops have shown they are up to the task— The innovations and adaptation embraced by businesses affected by public health measures is encouraging and can serve as inspiration for us all.
Many are industry leaders and play a pivotal role in supporting the local economy by providing goods and services, along with employment for community members.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our local businesses have needed community support more than ever to ensure they are able to survive.
The pivotal role they play in the local economy can not be understated— The Cochrane & District Chamber of Commerce reported 64 to 67 per cent of dollars spent locally stay in the community directly benefiting the local economy.
Cochranites have risen to the challenge of shopping locally. During the holiday season the Cochrane & District Chamber of Commerce president Kelly Sinclair reported more than $37,000 had been committed to shopping local by residents.
There are signs the province is beginning to reopen, but support for local businesses will remain imperative.
Recently public health measures have been eased allowing personal and wellness services to open to the public via appointment only.
This is good news.
While the town has seen some businesses close due to the pandemic and the struggling Alberta economy, business development manager and Economic Task Force leader Mike Korman reported that over the last six months there has been an increase in businesses opening in comparison to those that have shut their doors.
The opening of personal service shops by appointment will serve as a relief for many in the community.
Korman is hopeful the latter part of 2021 will see a resurgence in the local economy.
“People are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel— I hope that we reach the numbers we need to in order to free up some of these restrictions," Korman said.
The lessening of health measures was made possible because Albertans have actively worked together to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The actions we take in the coming weeks and months will shape our future and our local economy.
We all must work together to help ensure COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to lessen in number so we continue to see an easement of public health measures.
Businesses have been able to weather what will hopefully be one of the most challenging parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the future remains uncertain.
Sinclair put it best.
“I think that hope is a really important emotion to hold onto now— Everybody has a choice in how they look at the situation that is happening."