What interesting times we live in. I have never experienced anything like this in all my life. A virus we cannot see, touch or feel is crippling life as we know it. I have asked myself multiple times in the last few weeks, can you believe what is happening all around the world?

COVID-19 is impacting us all. I cannot encourage enough safe hygiene practices, social distancing and self-isolation. Listen to what health experts are saying and heed their wisdom. We need to take aggressive steps now to combat the spread and its ultimate impact.

As we deal with self-imposed or government restrictions, our businesses are struggling. Many are barely surviving. Some have had to completely shut down for a time period. Some, literally overnight, are having to radically rethink how they operate, while others are having to make the difficult decision to reduce staffing.

Businesses are not a building, a food truck or even a website. Rather, businesses are people, and people are hurting. The Norman Chamber of Commerce is doing our part to help businesses act responsibility during this crisis.

First, we are honored to be part of a multi-disciplinary team of agencies across our city working to address the business, social, educational and other needs we all have.

More specifically, we have assembled a list of important resources for your business to use during this time. We have created a special landing page on our website at normanchamber.com, and I would encourage everyone to refer to it often, as it is continually being updated with new information.

If you are having to change your operation or offering a special service, please complete the short questionnaire available on this page. People are wondering if their favorite restaurant is still open, or if they can find some relief for a specific service they need. We are also sharing the questionnaire responses so people find the resources they need or discover specific ways to help our businesses.

No doubt many of our businesses are going to experience a financial loss because of COVID-19. Relief is heading our way, and I expect more to be approved in the coming days and weeks.

To access this relief, businesses need to take two steps: First, fill out a short online form for the state and, second, register online with the Small Business Administration. We have links to both of these sites on our website. These actions will trigger the relief so desperately needed.

We have assembled teams of experts who can assist businesses in navigating an SBA low interest loan or help in modernizing their online presence with a curbside pickup app or other technologies. Again, you can find these resources on our website.

Importantly, many hourly employees are trying to live with reduced hours or complete loss of work. We are assembling a list of employers who are hiring. If you are a business that falls into this category, please fill out the questionnaire so we can share this with people who are looking for work.

If you are someone needing work, please look at our website for updated job information.

We want to be the conduit between job opportunities and those seeking employment. This information will be updated as provided.

Together, we will get through this. Take care of yourself, your family and your business.

At times like this, I am encouraged by the human spirit and the compassion inherit within each of us. Our businesses need help today and will for weeks to come, but I know we will rally in support of each other and in support of Norman.

Scott Martin, Norman Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, can be reached at 321-7260.

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