Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert has invited a group of diverse business leaders to join an Arlington Economic Recovery task force to create a framework to reestablish the economy and work force in Arlington, and to identify any obstacles. This committee is part of a city-wide effort to identify strategies and resource needs to kick start the local economy, following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The group will meet with video conferencing to share needs, ideas, and requests, to begin the long economic recovery effort ahead.
There are similar advisory boards at the county and state level. The Arlington task force will feed ideas and information to the countywide economic recovery task force, chaired by County Councilmember Nate Nehring, which Mayor Tolbert is a member.
The first meeting was Friday, April 24. The task force includes management from small businesses (Flowers by George, Olympic Escrow, Moe’s, Stilly Diner, Centennial Bar and Grill), manufacturers (Elemental Cider, CAI), construction (SMARTCAP, Coast Construction), large retail (Walmart, Grocery Outlet, Rairdon Auto), and professional services (Coastal Community Bank, State Farm, Edward Jones). A member of the Arlington Ministerial Association will also be joining the team.
Mayor Tolbert discussed the possibility of creating draft standards to present to the county and governor so that they feel more comfortable allowing businesses sectors to open. Tim Shoultz with SMARTCAP commented, “We need a plan as we move forward with the ability to look forward at least two weeks. Lack of information makes it difficult.”
Social distancing protocol is a factor in allowing businesses to open. Is there a way to formulate analytics and best practices for social distancing? Mike Simpson, of Grocery Outlet, volunteered to share their operational best practices and guidelines, such as customer per hour count.
The group discussed the supply chain for personal protective equipment, and how Arlington can band together to create a buying cooperative. Mandy Kruger, with the Stilly Valley Chamber of Commerce, offered to help by collecting data from businesses and create a survey to identify obstacles businesses may face. Businesses are encouraged to complete the survey here.
Mandy said, "Being a part of the Economic Task Force is an opportunity for our chamber to act as a voice for our business community while they are planning to transition back to business as usual. Many of our members are looking forward to clear guidance and an action plan, and the Stilly Valley Chamber is proud to be playing a role (along with many other community leaders) to help kick-start the economy, and assist our businesses in recovery efforts – post the Covid-19 pandemic."
Lisa Cisneros, the President of the Downtown Arlington Business Association is participating in the task force. She said, “Being on the task force is a great opportunity to give the downtown a voice on safely reopening. I was impressed with the number of ideas shared and the willingness to cooperate together to get us moving and keep us safe.”
This task force has begun working on plans to present to the larger county/state task force. Mayor Tolbert is confident that Arlington’s input is integral to the rapid recovery of Arlington’s businesses. “We know that this pandemic has caused rapid adaptability and innovation. This type of innovation will help all our businesses.”
The Mayor is also thinking about the consumer side of re-opening and wants the public to be safe and ready to integrate back into the marketplace. Wearing masks in public is now recommended. The “Masks for Arlington” volunteers have partnered with the Arlington Community Food bank to distribute masks for citizens. For more information on masks, go to http://arlingtonwa.gov/664/Masks-for-Arlington.