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SCHREIBER: There is hope, helpers, and humanity to focus upon

Kevin J. Schreiber
York County Economic Alliance
York County Economic Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Schreiber and Downtown Inc CEO Silas Chamberlin, right, talk with the media during a press conference at PeoplesBank Park announcing an alliance between the two organizations Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

Foremost, thank you to our health care and government professionals working tirelessly to wrap their collective arms around this pandemic. Thank you to our elected leaders, local, county, state and federal. And thank you to our educational partners who quickly adapted their systems to keep our learners connected. This is an unenviable but life-saving task.

It is yet unknown the toll that COVID-19 will have, or the time frame which it will endure. We are, however, certain that there are those in need of assistance now.

In the wake of the initial outbreak, along with a host of community partners, www.PreparedYork.com was launched. This site serves as a clearinghouse of information for anyone economically impacted by COVID-19, looking for a guiding source of facts and resources in these ever-evolving times. Our team is doing its best effort to keep the site as current as possible, often with hourly updates occurring to alleviate any additional stress in having to navigate for resources on your own.

It is on this site that we are compiling all financial resources available to small businesses. There is information on family support and childcare, food security and health care. If you are an impacted employee, it is here where you can connect with unemployment guidance or to employers who are presently hiring — and there are those hiring. There are resources available now, such as SBA Emergency Relief Funding, and there will be many more to follow. We will distill all available resources into what you need to know and render it onto this site.

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Subject matter experts across our county, region and commonwealth are hosting free webinars. We’ve dedicated a section of the site to promote and maintain this library of information.

Prepared York has also served to connect businesses to other businesses for brain sharing or to connect them with the ongoing list of emergency equipment sought by our health care professionals. We already have early success stories of local manufacturers quickly coming to the aid of health care organizations with donated supplies or turning the might of their manufacturing prowess to support this important endeavor. York’s plan saved the world before, and it can do so again. We now have a live Google document that lists all needed emergency equipment and solicits area companies to donate or manufacture goods for the greater good. Click here if you can help.

To leverage the collaboration and resources across the region, we recently joined together with our nearby counties to launch www.PreparedCentralPa.com, representing Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and Perry counties. Further, partners such as MANTEC and the Manufacturer’s Association are working with their many stakeholders to help those businesses still operational, support those that are not, help the individuals impacted by this closure, and leverage the force of manufacturing to develop and drive support to where it is most needed.

Our team is closely watching emergency legislation as it evolves at the state and federal levels. It is here that we distill and present what you need to know. We post updates and issue multiple e-newsletters all to that effect.

There will be another side to this crisis, one which our country and commonwealth endures.

The lessons learned provide evidence on just how fragile our international supply chain is, and the importance that our government support all industrial reshoring efforts possible. It demonstrates there is still a vast need for a common countrywide workforce plan to better train and adapt our 21st century economy’s employees. We’ve all learned just how many daily meetings can simply be emails, but many were taught just how ill prepared our economy is to work and live remotely. We learned the vital importance for child and family care. And yes, we’ve learned an inventory of toilet paper is of national importance.

Take solace and hope in the good already occurring. We’ve seen manufacturers and businesses rush to supply health care, customers purchasing gift cards, or taking ten minutes to complete their Census or leave a positive review of a favorite business in Yelp, Google or Facebook.

There will be a day when we are not living under a state of emergency. We will return to some degree of normalcy, though we are all forever changed for surviving this experience. We must now shift our collective mentality to a people-centered economy, one that can equip communities and her citizenry with the resources they need to be economically sustainable, independent and employable.

The current climate and uncertainty may cause anxiety. It remains ever important to focus on what you may control, remaining safe and healthy, helping others, and caring for your loved ones. We’ve been tested as a nation before. We always find our way to move forward. Do what you can with what you’ve got. Care for the common wealth of others, and allow the principle that “it gets better for all, when it gets better for all,” be our North Star as we navigate these choppy seas.

— Kevin J. Schreiber is president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.