Mitigation and Recovery
By Andrea H. Reay
President/CEO of the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce
I recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. Among my time advocating for mitigation and recovery efforts to combat the effects of COVID-19, I was also able to reflect on our country’s collective history, our values, our failures and victories. It all stems from The Declaration of Independence, in which that famous preamble written by Thomas Jefferson proclaims:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The current global emergency forces us to reexamine and acknowledge these, our country’s most profound collective values, and to find the courage to live out these truths in action. Our time is now. Failure is not an option. That is why our Chamber is and will continue to focus on both mitigation and recovery strategies for this community, with focus on those core values as follows.
EQUAL. Yes, we are all created equal, but equality is still a mountain our nation is climbing. We see it evidenced in the way this crisis has impacted so many of us disproportionately. Not all of us can work from home, many of us have been laid off, and many have just now been authorized to collect unemployment with the passing of the CARES Act on Friday. This is why our Chamber’s mitigation strategy has been and will always be to advocate for more relief to those who need it most. As we move towards recovery, we will continue to focus on education and workforce development to create more economic equity within our community.
LIFE. In our first call with the Governor—when we all began to realize the gravity of the crisis before us—Governor Inslee was clear that his first responsibility was the life and safety of every Washingtonian. We have a right to life. A right to access healthcare and to live and work in safe communities. Our immediate mitigation response has been to encourage and follow all CDC guidelines for social distancing and to support those businesses that are still able to operate under current guidelines. Knowing that these guidelines are subject to frequent change, we are also rolling out more comprehensive and interactive remote learning and webinar opportunities. This will allow businesses to learn about the mitigation options available to them, such as grants and loans. We are also supporting, however we can, our healthcare workers and our first responders that are on the front lines of this disaster. We are grateful for their courage and commitment. Our recovery plan must also focus on finding innovative and creative ways we can support our healthcare system and invest in the research and technology that we know can and will save lives.
LIBERTY. Because my son became ill with coronavirus symptoms on March 16th, I began self-quarantining before the Governor’s ‘Stay Home-Stay Healthy’ order. All of these recommendations call into my mind many questions about what liberty and freedom truly are. Some of the characteristics of liberty are physical, certainly, but most are not. There are times when we must sacrifice our own physical liberty simply because the value one may gain is not worth the potential loss suffered by others. Mitigation here means that we must accept certain limitations on our individual physical freedoms, knowing that the truth of our liberty can never be taken away and are not exclusively physical. Recovery will be slow as we face increasingly stringent controls in order to protect more lives. As an organization that is well-versed in vigilance, we are confident that we will overcome these temporary restrictions on our personal freedoms and that our true liberty can never be taken from us.
HAPPINESS. The greatest joy I have ever known has been in serving my family and my community. We all have the right to pursue that which brings us joy and happiness—in both our personal and professional lives. So many of our local small business owners have devoted their lives to pursuing their joy through their business. For these individuals, it is so much more than a job or a livelihood. That happiness is threatened now by the unknown. When will we be able to reopen? When will we be able to “return to normal”? Mitigation at our Chamber comes immediately in sharing and distilling the resources that are available to safeguard our small businesses. It also comes with marketing and supporting the ways we can still keep joy alive, things such as purchasing gift certificates, ordering take away, and buying online. Recovery will come from our S.M.A.R.T. taskforce, comprised of both public and private organizations as well as individuals that will convene and gather to support our small businesses and see them through recovery. It is only through and by working together and united that we will overcome this, and any other challenge we may face.
Seattle Southside Chamber is your partner in both mitigation and recovery. Our promise is to walk with you, side by side. We will direct, advise, share, and encourage in any and all ways we can support our businesses and our community. Please continue to follow us on our social channels (@SeaSouthChamber), open and read our emails and updates, and check our website for a list of the latest information and resources at https://www.seattlesouthsidechamber.com/public-health. Please stay safe. Please take care of each other. This is our time to rise. This is our time to show our strength. This is our time.
This article was written by Andrea H. Reay, the President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce, “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and Tukwila since 1988. For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit their website at www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com.