Recognizing the financial pain inflicted by coronavirus-related disruptions, the City Council on Tuesday OK’d a small-business assistance and promotion partnership with the Terrell Chamber of Commerce.

The partnership is supported with $100,000 in city funds.

“We are acting just about as rapidly as anyone in the nation to create a small-business assistance program associated with this battle of not just beating Covid-19 but trying to help our businesses that may be suffering through this onslaught,” said City Manager Mike Sims.

The $100,000 committed to the effort will come from a number of city fund balances. “We’re not doing anything that we can’t afford,” said Sims. The funds will be delivered between April 15 and Sept. 30.

The money will be managed by the Chamber of Commerce, whose role in the partnership is to assist small businesses as they cope with plunging customer demand and other COVID-19 related challenges. Businesses do not have to be chamber members to receive support.

Under the partnership, the chamber will:

  • Assist businesses with understanding emergency protocols put in place by federal, state and local governments.
  • Market local businesses during the COVID-19 crises “as appropriate” and help local businesses promote and advertise after restrictions are lifted.
  • Help in accessing various assistance programs available through federal, state or county resources.
  • Gather input to determine needs and concerns and respond with opportunities and assistance as needed.
  • Provide office space and meeting space and operational assistance from the Trinity Valley Small Business Assistance Program and other small-business workforce programs.
  • Provide information in Spanish and English.
  • Provide outreach to Terrell small businesses that might not have traditionally participated in Chamber of Commerce activities.
  • Provide reports to the City Council related to the success of these programs.

“You’re never going to replace the pain of the past few weeks, you’re never going to replace the pain of the next couple of weeks, but we want to help as much as we possibly can,” said Sims.

Mayor Rick Carmona added: “While we ask the federal government for assistance, we will also assist our local businesses not only through the marketing program but … in other areas as well. I like the idea that it’s not just for chamber members but it’s for all the businesses as a whole within the city. There are tough times ahead. They’re going to need our local support and help. And a lot of times we talk about partnerships. This is that partnership at work.”

Aside from the new partnership, the Terrell Chamber of Commerce already offers COVID-19 resources to businesses on its website. A special COVID-19 page contains important information and links for small businesses, including partner agencies, funding and loan assistance information from the Small Business Administration, and a link to a closed Facebook Group where members can discuss and update on business issues and responses related to COVID-19. The page also includes a link to Terrell-area restaurants offering take-out and delivery options.

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