When Governor Ducey announced executive order 2020-09, Limiting the Operations of Certain Businesses to Slow the Spread of Covid-19, on March 19, the Goodyear Economic Development department knew that it needed to act quickly to support local businesses. The team broke into two groups, a large business team and a small business team, to develop plans
1. Business Outreach
Generally, large businesses in Goodyear had two polar opposite scenarios - they were either laying off or furloughing large numbers of employees or seeing a large increase and demand and needing to quickly ramp up their workforce. Staff worked to identify the needs of each company and connect them with its workforce partner, Arizona@Work, to help coordinate temporary hiring needs.
Goodyear’s small business community would also be severely impacted by the Governor’s order. Some of them would be shut down completely, others significantly limited in their operations. One project manager was tasked with becoming an expert on newly created federal assistance programs for small businesses and another to assist our restaurants. Staff compiled a list of resources and reached out to these businesses through a series of email e-blasts and social media messages designed to connect businesses with the resources they need and a separate campaign to remind the public that many of our businesses were still open.
In conjunction, staff created a webpage detailing all the resources available to support Goodyear’s local businesses, large and small, through Covid-19. Understanding the severe impact this would have on Goodyear’s economy, local businesses, and many of its residents’ livelihoods, staff opted to present the information in a positive light, reminding people that Goodyear as a community is, and will continue to be, open for business. Staff included tips for supporting local businesses, and encouraged people to look at for proactive and innovative solutions.
2. The InnovationHub @GoodyearAZ
The InnovationHub@GoodyearAZ is a lifeline for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, assisting dozens of entrepreneurs each month with one-on-one mentoring and educational workshops. With Covid-19 threatening the livelihood of so many, staff understood the importance the continuation of Hub programming would have to the business community.
As social distancing policies and the eventual closing of the library threatened InnovationHub events, staff adapted to online meetings and phone calls. The Hub holds ASU Startup School twice a year, and the class was in its final weeks as Covid-19 was quickly closing public gatherings. The last two classes were held virtually, and the curriculum was adjusted to address the economic ramifications of Covid-19 and discuss the resources available to the entrepreneurs. A Business Builders monthly meeting was held virtually on April 28 and featured guest speaker Mike Bull, Small Business Development Center’s local Business Analyst. Fourteen people attended.
3. Restaurant List
In mid-March, leadership from Abrazo West reached out to economic development staff with a concern. They were concerned that many Goodyear residents walk to the hospital each day to purchase an inexpensive, healthy meal at its cafeteria. New restrictions temporary forced the hospital to close for visitors, and the hospital wanted to know where they could send their patrons for a meal.
Economic development staff, equally concerned with the health of Goodyear’s restaurants, researched the 156 restaurants on the city’s business registration list and determined whether the restaurants were temporarily closed or still serving customers with take-out and delivery options. Staff found that the vast majority of restaurants had quickly adapted to new methods of doing business with most still serving and many providing family meal deals and other Covid-19 take-out specials. The list was compiled and promoted through city social media channels.
Businesses began coming together in new and unique ways to support our community. Local sign company AZ Pro offered free red banners for restaurants to hang on their storefronts, clearly stating that they were still open for carry-out and delivery. The city supported this and other small business temporary signage by adopting an interim sign code to help businesses through Covid-19. Taco Redempcion and their newly opened neighbor restaurant, Henry’s Hawaiian BBQ, came together and offered a family special-offering dishes from both of their restaurants in one packaged meal. Booty’s Wings, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Enroute Coffee & Tea House voluntarily took coffee and meals to healthcare workers. And Wildflower Bread Company started an affordable lunch program, offering a drive through with a $3 sandwich and fruit combo. Even though they, too, were in need, these companies not only adapted their business models, they went beyond to meet the needs in our community.