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Local business owners to learn how to 'Recover Together'

Brandon Paykamian • May 20, 2020 at 5:26 PM

As Tennessee’s economy gradually reopens, business owners are considering the best strategies for their return and exploring how the novel coronavirus outbreak will influence future business operations.

To help, East Tennessee State University’s Tennessee Small Business Development Center will continue its free weekly webinar “Recover Together: Reopening Discussion and Best Practices,” giving local business owners a chance to share their insights.

Center Director Mark Bays said the series, which will continue Thursday at 4 p.m., aims to teach others about how different industries are adapting to the pandemic’s challenges by inviting speakers from several local business sectors.

Thursday’s speakers will include Katie Prendergast of Prendergast Construction, Ron Metcalfe of WGRV Hometown Radio Greeneville, Stan Johnson of Great Body Company, Jennifer Feathers of WorkSpace Interiors and Lori Arnold of GSM Filtration Inc.

“They’re discussing how the COVID-19 situation has impacted their businesses and how they’ve had to adjust to that situation,” Bays said.

“If they’re a business that stayed open during that time, how did they have to adjust their operation strategy? If they’re a business that recently reopened with new guidelines, how have they had to adjust to that and what are they doing to keep their customers and employees safe?”

Last month, Gov. Bill Lee announced plans to allow restaurants and retail shops to reopen with new safety guidelines. Those guidelines encourage but don’t enforce social distancing measures and limits on capacity.

Bays said business owners are considering “a lot of unknowns” in regard to how the pandemic progresses and whether a second wave could deal yet another blow to local businesses.

“Safety has been a big concern for a lot. We’ve seen a lot of folks trying to make sure their employees and customers are safe,” he said. “We’ve seen some that have kind of slowed down to create their own phases for themselves on how they’re gradually reopening and letting people into their business.

“Whether it’s something that hits this summer, this fall, or this winter is unknown,” he continued. “I think a lot of businesses are definitely sensitive to what's going to happen if we do have a second wave.”

Bays said the goal of Thursday’s discussion is to show how others are measuring risks during the outbreak. He said he’s learned a lot from the seminars and expects attendees to, as well.

“The real goal of this is to allow other business owners to see how they’re approaching the situation and how they’ve been impacted by it so they can get their wheels spinning on some things they can be doing at their own business,” he said. “I think everybody kind of learns from each other.”

To learn about upcoming “Recover Together” webinars or to register, visit www.tsbdc.org/etsu.

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