Chamber Connections: Do your part to help economy by wearing a mask

A prosperous Otsego County means higher-wage jobs, stronger child care availability and broadband expansion and, of personal priority for each us, meaningful opportunities for growth and prosperity.

The effect of COVID-19 on the Otsego County economy is significant, and in working with business leaders across the county there has been a strong collaborative effort to identify how we can help the Otsego County economy — its businesses — restart, recover and reimagine our future.

We do know there are immediate needs: to reconnect job seekers with meaningful careers and to ensure business continuity. The Otsego County Chamber of Commerce is working every day to meet these urgent needs and are making meaningful connections to job seekers and employers. We are looking to schedule our first drive-thru job fair on Thursday, Aug. 6. Job seekers can stay safely in their cars and collect job postings and career opportunities. For details check out our website at otsegocc.com.

While we understand the challenges, we also see opportunities for Otsego County to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in a stronger relative position, and the Otsego County workforce will play a primary role. It cannot be overstated as we learned from our Chamber Workforce Summits: Talent Development is Economic Development.

We look forward to welcoming our college students back to Hartwick and SUNY Oneonta colleges this fall and we look forward to connecting their talent to local businesses creating opportunities to host interns and make college students aware of the local opportunities.

I have been hosting interns here at the chamber for the past eight years from both colleges and during this pandemic. I am excited by the outreach of students who want to be made aware of opportunities within our community for internships and long-term employment. I look forward to actively working with the excellent internship offices at both colleges to assist in building these connections and placements both virtually and in person as we keep everyone safe.

A statement of hope: It is exciting to see businesses continuing to reopen and visitors coming to our area to support our local economy. We are dependent upon (and appreciative of) our visitors and second homeowners and we encourage visitors to take advantage of their stay here, enjoying all we have to offer. Our community is taking the coronavirus concerns very seriously and we encourage the five commitments of containment by honoring social distancing requirements, wearing masks, washing our hands, staying home if experiencing illness, and getting tested if you have symptoms.

The five commitments are designed to fight COVID in order to keep our community safe. Wearing a mask or face covering correctly, covering your nose and mouth, is a good self-protection strategy we all need to follow. Wearing a face covering is a compassion test. It’s a decency test. It’s a social responsibility test. And most importantly, it is a commonsense approach to fighting the coronavirus and keeping our community safe.

As we welcome the return of our college students, we can all lead by example of how the locals take care of one another and act as positive role models to our students. Thank you Mayor Gary Herzig, Dr. Margaret Drugovich and Dr. Barbara Jean Morris for your outstanding leadership in working to safely bring back our college students.

A friendly reminder to please affirm with New York state that your business is open. Please visit SupportOtsego.com and SupportOneonta.com as the information is marked clearly where to click to self-certify your business.

Barbara Ann Heegan is president and chief executive officer of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.

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