CANTON President and CEO of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Dennis P. Saunier said the Chamber has been helping and supporting local businesses and the community in any way they can.


“We’ve all had to start thinking about business differently in this situation,” he said.


Saunier added that businesses also have to think differently about how to promote their businesses.


“We have some restaurants offering carryout and delivery services for customers and they’ve had to develop ways to promote their meal offerings,” Saunier said. “The restaurant business is one of the toughest to operate in normal times much less now. Small business in general is not for the faint of heart. These entrepreneurs continuously overcome hurdles, but this is a big hurdle. Some have capital built up and others don’t so there will be some calamities.”


The Canton Chamber is a membership organization with more than 1,900 members who come from every faucet of business and industry including manufacturing, medical professionals, small business and many others. Members are from all over Stark County and surrounding counties. The mission of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce is to lead the region in business and community development through collaboration and innovation.


Saunier said the Canton Chamber’s membership is 85-87 percent small business owners. The Chamber has been in regular contact with its members through phone calls, conference calls, email and social media outlets. The Chamber recently launched an online survey to members asking how the health crisis has affected their business.


“We’re hoping the survey will provide us data to show what issues are trending. Any business can go to our website to take the survey,” Saunier said.


The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/crcc-covid-19-survey. The Canton Chamber’s website at www.cantonchamber.org/covid19#resources has a slew of resources available for businesses to review. The Chamber is also keeping members up-to-date through the monthly newsletter at www.cantonchamber.org/action-publications#read.


The Chamber has found that many area businesses have joined in the fight against the COVID-19 virus by converting their business model to help produce much needed medical and protective items.


“Everyone can be proud of some of our local companies who are finding ways to support coming out of this. We are seeing a lot of resiliency, inventiveness, and tenacity from our businesses,” Saunier said.


The Chamber has been providing online programming for their members, keeping them up to date on the public assistance available and other vital information and support as they find out what businesses specifically need help with.


One of the considerations now is the transition to working remotely. The Chamber has 30 employees working from home. Saunier said the chamber has been helping its members with the same kind of change.


"Not only are businesses going from having to work from home but to learning how to work from home and stay productive,“ Saunier said. ”Businesses are holding webinars, meetings and people are realizing the various capabilities. There will be many lessons learned from this on how businesses can operate differently in the future. I think that we will all see a new normal at the end of this crisis.


“As long as everyone supports each other and remains resilient, we’ll get through this together. We’ll make mistakes and realizations along the way. These new ways of working are going to affect us locally, across the United States and globally.”