Shop Local

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Local officials attended the Port Dine & Shop outdoors. (Photo courtesy of Debbie Greco Cohen)

To help local businesses combat their losses due to COVID-19, the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, along with State Senator Anna Kaplan have been working tirelessly to help assist local businesses in Port Washington.

The Chamber has been keeping in contact with more than 300 local businesses to make sure that they aware of grants, loans and assistance that may be available, as well as how to apply for them. Along with the financial assistance, the Chamber has sent out information regarding free seminars. These seminars can help to provide support and information that can be valuable to a small business.

“During the first months of the pandemic shutdown, our website ran a list of restaurants and businesses that were allowed to be open,” Bobbie Polay, executive director of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce, said. “We included addresses, phone numbers, websites and specific information about each one. Currently, our website maintains a list of all businesses by category to make it easy for residents to find any services or products they need.”

The Chamber has also been partnering with the Business Improvement District (BID), Residents Forward and Landmark on Main Street to sponsor events such as the Port Outdoors Dine and Shop. The Dine and Shop event is scheduled for Thursday evenings and has been extended until Oct 15. Residents can support local businesses and eat a nice meal on Main Street and the Port Commons block on Port Washington Blvd, while also maintaining proper social distancing guidelines.

“These events allow residents to stroll, dine and shop outdoors in a traffic free pedestrian only mall,” Polay said. “Entertainment is provided at various locations on the street.”
The Chamber, like many other businesses on Long Island and in Port Washington, has also been struggling. Many of their fundraisers that are typically held throughout the year had to be canceled due to the pandemic.

“We had to cancel our major fundraiser, HarborFest,” Polay said. “In addition, our members were unable to pay their annual dues so we lost income from that source, too. We had to close down for almost two months until we received a federal loan. Although we cannot offer financial assistance to businesses, we remain a source of information and connection with the entire business community.”

Polay stated that becoming a member of the chamber can be a valuable resource to local businesses and residents in Port Washington.

“Membership dues allow the Chamber to continue to support the business community through promotional events, publicity, informational outreach and lobbying efforts,” Polay said.

Membership to the Chamber includes free monthly e-blasts to their 250 members, participation in events that the Chamber organizes, such as HarborFest, Pride in Port, Port Holiday Magic on Small Business Saturday, Memorial Day Flags, Holiday Toy Drive with the Police Department, Holiday Decorations and the SOUPer Bowl to name a few. Members also have the opportunity to make a brief presentation at the Chamber’s monthly meetings, which hope resume after the pandemic subsides. Members of the Chamber are also highlighted in the Chamber’s publication, Try Port First, which is a list of businesses and contact information that is mailed to all the homes in the community.

“Our website provides every member with their own page where they can post information about their business,” Polay said. “Members can also take ads on the website to stand out even more.”

For the past few weeks, State Senator Anna Kaplan has been visiting businesses in Port Washington to find out what their needs are. One of the major problems that business owners are struggling with right now is the lack of income due to the pandemic; many small businesses are struggling to pay rent and cover their monthly costs. Kaplan stated that although the NYS has come up with nearly $100 million for small businesses, it’s simply not enough given how long this pandemic has been stretching on for. While NYS waits for federal funding, Kaplan has been meeting with local business owners to develop a relationship and learn about some of the struggles they are facing.

“The fact is that the restaurants and businesses are all willing,” Kaplan said. “You can call, order online, they do delivery. You don’t even have to get out of your car. They are making it easy for the customer base, for our residents to [shop local]. We have to think of them first and foremost.”

In July, Kaplan introduced a bill which helps small businesses provide personal protective equipment (PPE), keeps contract tracing information confidential and protects New Yorkers as they return to the work force.

“This legislation, sponsored by SKaplan, authorizes the Empire State Development Corporation to develop a public awareness campaign promoting personal protective clothing and equipment manufacturing businesses located in New York state,” Kaplan’s website states.

One of the best resources for small businesses is to figure out the best way to appeal to their customers, to attend seminars and webinars for expert guidance, and to not be afraid to reach out for help. Kaplan also encourages residents to shop local as much as possible to help support the community and keep small businesses open.

“We each have to do our part to help this whole situation,” Kaplan said. “It’s unprecedented times for all of us.”

For more information about the chamber of commerce, visit www.pwcoc.org. To contact Senator Kaplan’s office, call 516-746-5924. For more information regarding programs and services, visit www.coronavirus.senatorkaplan.com

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