The year 2020 may very well forever be remembered as the year of the pandemic. Spanning the entire globe and intervening in all our daily lives in such profound ways, COVID19 left many of us paralyzed, frightened, and anxious. I think I can speak for not only Downtown Partners, but the entire business district in downtown, when I say that finding quick and effective solutions to the mounting pressures the pandemic imposed on us, was not, and still is not, an easy task.
Within mere days, we shifted from business as usual to temporary closures, from dine-in to takeout and delivery only, and from working at the office to an insurmountable number of Zoom meetings every day, all of which was aimed at somehow keeping our local economy running. Responding quickly and effectively to any challenge had been part of my responsibilities prior to COVID 19. But never would I have anticipated the accelerating speed of new developments changing on a daily, or sometimes hourly, basis.
Those efforts that we as an organization were able to coordinate – namely finding creative ways to support our locally-owned shops in preventing or weathering a temporary shutdown, and educating our public about how to support those businesses – did do their part to alleviate some of the worst effects on our small businesses. Nevertheless, the fact that it took so many of us, me included, so long to comprehend the sheer magnitude of what was to come, certainly added to the host of challenges that we are facing at the moment, and left many of us with a sense of helplessness.
I recently developed a habit of catching up with friends and family I haven’t talked to in a long time – particularly those overseas – asking each and every one of them about what they think could be a positive aspect of the crisis (the fact that my friends and I were able to finally catch up being the most obvious one). I received a host of encouraging responses – being able to re-center and refocus on the most essential things, reconnecting with family, seeing kindness in strangers – with each of the people I talked to adding a small piece to the puzzle I should call resilience.
In the context of Downtown Sioux City, that resilience can play out in a variety of ways, some of which we already see emerging. There is the bar owner on Historic 4th who tells me about the tremendous support they have received from the community. There is the freelance photographer who goes around highlighting the people running our locally owned shops. There are the many downtown music venues who invite our community to take a break from the monotonous day-to-day life, tune in on their virtual live events, and help raise money to keep our many great Siouxland artists afloat.
Those are the small but important things that help keep a community together, build resilience, and make me hopeful for the future recovery of Downtown Sioux City. We at Downtown Partners continue to do our part to support our small businesses every single step along the way, and effectively communicate with the public through our website and social media outlets.
The pandemic may be new. The idea of failure inevitably being part of our life is not, however. Neither is the idea that without failing, a learning process cannot and will not occur. I am positive that we can use this unprecedented crisis to come together, and, instead of going back to normal, take the next step forward.
By: Josh Schcanda with Downtown Partners