Effect of coronavirus being gauged in Wyandotte County

Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

Last week has been a very different one; and the coming week promises to be the same. The threat of the coronavirus has affected everyone in the world. I am concerned about the health of everyone. I am also concerned about the effect the disease may have on our Business West members, many of whom are small business owners.

Instead of my normal report which would tell of the various meetings I would attend, I am summarizing various helpful resources. But first I would like to provide some words of encouragement. I believe it is something that is needed.

Leadership is most important during troubled times. I see examples of great leadership in many ways at various levels. I see it at City Hall. Mayor David Alvey is doing an excellent job; this has to be his most serious challenge. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican, had high praise for Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, during a town hall telephone conference Friday, March 27. He said she was doing a good job managing circumstances in the state of Kansas.

John W. Gardner, the founder of Common Cause, was the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare during the 1960s when Lyndon Johnson was president. I am most impressed with the definition of leadership that is attributed to Gardner. He said, when it is all stripped down, leadership can be defined by three words — keeping hope alive.

For the past several years, I have convened a voluntary organization called the Last Tuesday Committee. The organization was founded several years ago by Cindy Cash who was president of the Chamber of Commerce. The executives of various neighborhood business organizations and the Wyandotte Economic Development Council (WYEDC) are invited. It remains today as an information-sharing organization. The group also helps sponsor the candidates’ forum held at election time at the community college.

The follow is a summary of what the chamber and WYEDC are doing to meet the challenge of the coronavirus threat.

Joab Ortiz, the chairman of the board of the chamber, said the chamber is working with local,
state and federal officials to provide support during these challenging times. He told of efforts in four areas:

• Promotion of your business or organization. The chamber will offer this promotion through social media, the chamber’s website and newsletters. Interested persons should contact Katelyn Kaminski at 913-371-3070 or email katelyn@kckchambder.com.

• Buying local. The chamber offers buying blitzes at local businesses. Contact Katelyn Kaminski at 913-371-3070 or email katelyn@kckchamber.com.

• Connection with federal resources. The office of U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids provides the chamber with information about grants and loans for small businesses. Contact Daniel Silva, the chamber president, at 913-371-3070 or email Daniel@kckchamber.com .

• COVID-19 Task Force. The chamber is looking for businesses interested in developing strategies to keep businesses running. To volunteer, contact Daniel Silva at 913-371-3070.

The chamber is offering these services to the entire business community, not just its members.

Greg Kindle, the president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, is surveying Wyandotte County businesses to determine the effect of the coronavirus. WYEDC has also developed a website entitled “COVID-19 Resources.” The website is www.wyedc.org/covid-19-resources.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.

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