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Brainstorming with Scranton Business Owners through Counter Conversations

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may be changing the way business owners operate on a daily basis, but it has not stifled their creativity, ingenuity, or dedication to the communities they serve. A prime example: Scranton Tomorrow’s new Counter Conversation series.

Leslie Collins, executive director of Scranton Tomorrow, developed and moderated the first Zoom meeting in the series on Thursday, April 2, welcoming more than 30 Downtown Scranton business owners and community leaders to the session. A diverse group of professionals participated, representing retail, health and wellness, restaurant and hospitality, tourism, professional services, non-profit organizations, local government institutions and higher education.

The first part of the session was devoted to strategy. Participants discussed how they have modified their business models in accordance with the state’s stay-at-home order for essential and non-essential businesses. They also shared their experiences about what has worked well, and what they needed to refine, as many swiftly transitioned from brick-and-mortar businesses to online businesses. In addition, the group exchanged ideas for future Downtown Scranton promotions, optimistic that when businesses re-open, they will return with even more to offer their customers and clients.

For the second part of the session, Chris Collins, principal, Kistler Tiffany Benefits, a OneDigital Health and Benefits Company, presented information on the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. Loan terms will be the same for all borrowers, and the loans will be forgiven as long as the funds are used to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made, and employee and compensation levels are maintained.

Loans will be processed by SBA approved lenders, starting Friday, April 3 for small businesses and sole proprietorships, and Friday, April 10 for independent contractors and those who are self-employed. Chris Collins encouraged small business owners to complete the 2-page application and contact their bank right away as funding will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Multiple local banks are participating in the program. For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, review the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources and check out The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center.

Scranton Tomorrow will continue to host the weekly Counter Conversation series through April 30. Scranton business owners interested in participating are encouraged to email Leslie Collins, executive director, Scranton Tomorrow. For more updates, be sure to follow Scranton Tomorrow on Facebook.

Get ready for our next Conversation. Download Zoom here!

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