By Scott Carlson
As the executive director of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, Chad Kulas has a front row seat in witnessing how the coronavirus pandemic and recent social unrest are generally affecting many businesses that belong to his 101-year-old organization.
The Bugle recently conducted the following Q-and-A with Kulas:
Q: How is the Midway Chamber of Commerce handling the challenges of COVID-19 and the impacts of the George Floyd protests that led to some businesses getting damaged?
A: For COVID-19, it varies by industry. Some have remained at their physical office space throughout and made adjustments to make it safe and compliant. Others have remained working from home and adjusted by going virtual for meetings.
For civil unrest, we have seen the community come together to show support for those business companies to determine what is covered. They also have the challenges of determining when they can reopen and of letting customers and clients know when they do reopen.
Q: What is the Chamber doing to assist businesses?
A: We have created a fund in partnership with the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. The first round of funds has been awarded and there will be many more rounds.
We are also helping connect our members to businesses in need if they can offer assistance.
Q: What is the biggest challenge your organization is facing?
A: The biggest challenge is we are an organization that plans events and one of the benefits of membership is the ability to connect with other organizations. We have adapted well to virtual meetings and events and are now also doing some in-person when it’s safe. We have been able to show value in different ways to members, a lot of which we will keep once everyone returns to their office.