Chamber examines how to best serve local business as pandemic surges

Drew Butler
dbutler@gannett.com
News alert

As the number of COVID cases continues to rise in Ardmore and Carter County, the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce is currently examining how to best promote and support local business in the year ahead. Chamber President and CEO Mita Bates said while they are currently focusing on helping to get the pandemic under control, they are also examining their options about how to move ahead with their annual events and public forums.

“Right now Carter County has some of the highest numbers in the state in regards to COVID, so first and foremost we need to address that situation head-on,” Bates said. “So we’re going to continue to support our local businesses and retailers and help them remain open safely, and we’re also going really stress to everyone that now is the time to get serious about this uptick. I think that we’ve all hoped that this would go away, but the reality is that it has not.”

Bates said the chamber will be making a push in the coming days and weeks to increase their COVID safety and awareness program to encourage the use of face coverings and remind the public to wash their hands. They are also putting together another virtual meeting with local bankers to discuss the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program with chamber members and other small businesses.

Bates said the pandemic will also affect how and when the chamber’s other activities take place.

“Some of the things are such a tradition with the chamber just aren’t going to be able to happen in the normal time frame,” Bates said. “We’re hoping to be able to push events like the Chamber Banquet and the State of Education Forum back a few months and make them second quarter events.”

Bates said the chamber will also continue to monitor both the state and national legislatures for the changes that will impact the business community in Southern Oklahoma.

“I can tell you we’re going to do a legislative kick off with our state elected officials, but it’s going to be a virtual town hall sometime in February,” Bates said. “I’m hoping that as we get into the spring we’ll be able to have a return of some of our in-person functions. We’re very fortunate to have such a large space available at the Convention Center where we can really spread people out to allow for social distancing. So if we can have those events safely, we will.”