By Laura P. Doster

Executive Director
Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge

The Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge, its leadership, staff, and board of directors are working relentlessly during this unprecedented time in our history from the global COVID-19 pandemic.  We will stay the course to continue finding ways to keep you informed and supported.  The following are a few examples of what we have been doing:

  • Providing resources to our small businesses for financial relief such as the Small Business Administration’s new COVID-19 guidelines and advances
  • Sending links about the latest unemployment guidelines and grant offerings to employees who have lost their jobs
  • Participating in calls with the state, county, and local governments to ensure your Gorge has a voice
  • Hosting calls with small leadership groups to help us stay connected
  • Posting factual and urgent information via e-mail blasts and the Chamber’s Facebook page
  • Working closely with the US, Carolina and Western North Carolina Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives – sharing ideas, best practices, resources
  • Creating a gift card campaign for local restaurants and retailers with 100 percent of the revenues going to the merchants. 
  • Creating a COVID-19 tab to our website with crucial resource links, local hours, NC Updates, & Rutherford County Updates
  • Researching the creation of a community fund to financially support the local small businesses that do not meet SBA guidelines

Information changes minute-by-minute as we continue our best efforts to disseminate the information.  In both good and challenging times such as these, it remains our privilege and mission to serve you.

From a personal perspective

 During this time, retreating should not be our course of action during this pandemic.  That may be difficult to understand, especially since we are told to stay in our homes. We are isolated, and many are alone. 

Nevertheless, consider that instead of retreating, take a moment to reflect and then rally.  Reflect on what behaviors we can each change, what actions can we take under our current executive orders or mandates, and how do we change our mindset.  How can we rally together as we did for the flood, the fire, the mudslides, and the ice storm?  What can we do to rally around our front-line soldiers – medical personnel, nurses, doctors, truck drivers/deliveries, EMT, grocery store workers, pharmacy employees, and firefighters?

Since we cannot be together in person or groups, we can do this with TECHNOLOGY!   The resources are limitless, and most are free. Zoom conference calls, Skype, Twitter, U-Tube, Instagram, Google, House-party, Facebook, smartphone cameras, e-mail, and LinkedIn, just to name a few.   You only need a computer or a smartphone.  If you do not know how to use these resources, reach out to someone who does. And if you have skills in this area, then help someone else learn.  Use these tools and resources to share a great story or create an online store for a non-essential retailer. Post an inspiring video, request help, or establish a prayer group.  Start a sewing group to make needed items, encourage one another, host church,  or search for available funds, and share it. Post a beautiful picture of nature or say thank you to someone.  Technology is a fantastic mechanism that does connect us and connects us quickly.  Start doing something today; it will make a difference.

In closing, even though we do not all think the same, may not agree on everything, and may even get prickly with each other from time to time, it does not matter.  At the end of the day, we are an amazing, beautiful, and caring community.  We are a place of tolerance, grit, hard work, faith, beauty, love, and kindness.  How we come together during this event looks a bit different.  But we are together in this, and together will we prevail, heal, and come out better on the other side.  

Stay safe, everyone. Stay well. Stay positive. Stay connected.  

With Peace Profound, Laura Doster 

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  Martin Luther King Jr