Rotary Club of Kent meeting minutes
Rotareminder   April 7, 2020
President Roger rang the bell and called our Digital Meeting to order. Randy Smith led the pledge and the invocation.
Roger Sidoti                -encouraged everyone to check their ClubRunner Directory if they        
                                        needed to add/update their photo.
-Thanked David Dix for his kind words in the paper on Sunday and pointed out that the efforts being made were a team effort of the Rotary Board.
-Directed club members to email, call, or text any announcements they want included or they can make them at the digital meetings themselves.
Larry Lohman             -announced that the Roosevelt Interact Club was holding a meeting this afternoon in Google Hangout modeling our clubs’ efforts in staying connected.
Todd Kamenash         -reviewed the program for next week, Kent Rotary Trivia. He encouraged us all to attend the digital meeting wearing our favorite hat!
Anita Herington         -provided comic relief with a story from her sister about a bat in China, how unhinged we are coming being confined to home, or otherwise we are all….well….members can fill in the blanks!
A brief introduction was made introducing Michelle Hartman, Chief Operating Officer for Burbick Properties downtown and Treno Restaurant. Her presentation was The Impact of the Crisis Pandemic on Small Businesses.
Michele began the presentation with a simple question: What small business in Kent would you miss if it wasn’t there anymore? She asked everyone to think about that as she reviewed information about COVID-19’s impact on businesses to date. She thanked all of us for supporting our local small businesses, but reminded us that on March 15, 73 bars and restaurants in the greater Kent area were closed to customers. Some of her major points included the following:
-All the business owners are doing everything they can to help their employees and it has been a difficult decision to lay off their staff. Many workers were Kent State students who have left the area when the campus was shut down and wouldn’t be available if and when the ban was lifted.
-Some restaurants have tried to adapt by having carry-out menus on some evenings or being creative like Erie Street Kitchen having Pop-Up Street vending, all utilizing social media to get the word out. Not all restaurants had a carryout option before, so it wasn’t feasible to do.
-Business Interruption Insurance does not help because it doesn’t cover this type of situation, therefore no claims can be made to offset the losses the pandemic.
-When the social distancing ban is relaxed, businesses are already looking to reduce the amount of seating by removing tables, etc. To spread out diners, reducing the amount of income for the business.
-By March 22, all non-essential businesses were closed by order of the Governor, effectively shutting down the core business center of Kent. The Kent State Hotel was also closed. In addition, events planned by The Crooked River Arts Council, Mainstreet Kent, and the Kent Chamber of Commerce have been cancelled, and events in May and June are in jeopardy. Kent State’s Graduation and May 4th activities have been cancelled curtailing potential income to local businesses.
- Grill for Good scheduled for June 13 and The Kent Heritage Festival scheduled for June 28 are in great jeopardy. All of the activities have a significant impact on local businesses.
-The Small Business Association provides a Paycheck Protection Program, geared to getting your people back. It is 100% guaranteed loans through banks. Michelle emphasized how wonderful Hometown Bank, Portage Community Bank, and Huntington Bank have been in working tirelessly in process all these loans to small businesses.
-There is $369 billion dollars available, but you have to meet specific qualifications to secure the loan. Businesses under 500 employees can qualify for up to 21/2 times their monthly payroll, with some loan forgiveness possible if 75% utilized for salaries.
-The Economic Injury Disaster Loan is also available. This is a low interest disaster loan of up to $2million dollars paid back over 30 years. All of our businesses are taking advantage of these loan programs.
-Beyond loans, business have to adapt to the changes the pandemic has created. An example in Off the Wagon, who has already built a larger on-line order presence. Others are utilizing tech where possible.
-Kent Elastomers is providing components for a new business that has started in Texas. They are making personal protective gear.
Michelle wrapped up by pointing out that it is the human touch that is bringing us all together and we will get through this together. She asked if some of us would share what businesses would we miss. Anita pointed out how wonderful Off the Wagon is at Christmas time. Mary Beth said Ray’s, and Doug Fuller said everything!
Tom Hatch served as the responder to Michelle’s presentation. He thanked her for a wonderful presentation, noting the upbeat attitude and the specific information about what is available for our businesses. He indicated how grateful we are for her leadership during these difficult times and her personal investment in our community!
Closing Prayer
Carol Crimi offered a heartfelt closing prayer for all of us.