The past week has been filled with many ups and downs as information continues to unfold about the global outbreak of Coronavirus. As we each continue to digest the information available, there will be a range of emotions felt. These feelings are all valid.
The Bartow Chamber is committed to supporting the Bartow business community by providing timely resources and information based on fact. We encourage residents and visitors to continue to invest in our local businesses. We will continue to share information and important resources provided by the Health Department and the CDC as updates are made available. We are monitoring recommendations from the City of Bartow, County officials, and the Polk County School Board. As of this writing, Florida schools will be closed until March 27th with plans to reopen on March 30th.
While there are not any confirmed cases currently in Polk County, there are cases confirmed in Florida. Governor DeSantis and the CDC strongly recommend local authorities consider postponing large events. These recommendations are why we chose to postpone the upcoming Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast scheduled for March 18th. Main Street Bartow has also elected to cancel the upcoming March Friday Fest and UnParade on Friday, March 20th.
We encourage you to join us on the Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce Facebook page at 7:30am, Wednesday, March 18th, for a virtual time of prayer hosted by Reverend Becky Toalster of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Bartow. We will also share this video via email after it’s completion.
As a non-profit organization, we are not taking the cancellation or postponement of events lightly. These events, along with the support of our amazing members, is what allows the Chamber to continue to work for the Bartow community. Many other non-profits are also having to make the tough decision to cancel upcoming fundraisers. If you hear of cancellations, the Chamber encourages you to support these organizations through a donation if you are able.
We are making decisions on all upcoming activities on an event-by-event basis, and will be updating you as soon as we have information available.
Bartow is a special town, please continue to support our local businesses. Many small businesses don’t have the resources to weather storms such as the national emergency that has been declared as of this afternoon.
The following are a few suggestions on how you can continue to support local business:
Support Twisted Pineapple Boutique, as they have their Grand Opening in their new location at 160 S Wilson Ave on Saturday, March 14th at 10:00am.
Join Bartow’s first brewery, Front Page Brewing, at their Grand Opening on Saturday, March 14th starting at 12:00pm. Front Page Brewing is located in the old Polk County Democrat building at 190 S Florida Ave.
Continue to do business. Yes, in person meetings may become phone calls, but don’t stop doing business. If you do meet in person, a friendly smile and wave is perfect.
Know that the majority of our businesses are taking extra precautions, beyond those of everyday business, to ensure the health of their customers. If you are healthy, continue to patronize businesses, taking the recommended precautions to wash your hands often, not touch your face, carry your own sanitizing wipes/spray AND spend your money LOCALLY!
Please be supportive of your employees and encourage them to stay home if they are sick. If at all possible, offer paid sick leave. We will keep you notified as the federal and state government determine ways they can help.
Buy gift cards from local businesses that can be used at a later date. Call ahead purchasing and online purchasing are also great alternatives offered by many of our local businesses.
Order take out if you can’t eat in and as usual, don’t forget to tip!
Don’t cancel your memberships and subscriptions to local gyms, music lessons, dance classes, etc. Your continued support could save these small businesses through this time.
Ensuring the health and safety of our members and community means taking action to limit possible exposure and spread of the virus through large events, but as you have read, there is still plenty you can do to support the community.
The Bartow Chamber is here for YOU, the residents and supporters of the Bartow community. We appreciate your continued support of the Bartow Chamber and encourage you not to hesitate to reach out with any questions or ways the Chamber can assist you.
The Department of Health has a dedicated COVID-19 webpage for all of the most recent updates on the virus. This link, www.FloridaHealth.gov/COVID-19, includes information and guidance regarding COVID-19 in Florida and includes resources that may be helpful to local businesses. For questions related to COVID-19 in Polk County, you can reach the Department of Health in Polk County by calling 863-519-7911 Monday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.