In a time of business uncertainty, of waning government stimulus packages and a resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases, it is good to know what resources are still out there to help restore consumer confidence and stabilize struggling businesses. First, let’s start with what we know to be true based on the direct feedback from businesses throughout Coconino County. Second, based on what we know, let’s discuss the county’s programs and resources that are available to business owners right now.
The most significant concerns for business owners help us focus on what type of initiatives are important for economic development. Since March 2020, we have facilitated a longitudinal survey of businesses across the county and these have emerged as the top three concerns:
Increasing customer confidence.
Lack of tourists/customers.
Paying expenses (bills, wages).
From the results of these surveys, Coconino County quickly developed and implemented two new projects. The resources that are available now to business owners are:
Enhanced Food Handlers Certification – for food service businesses.
Weekly Grant Opportunities Report – for all businesses (private and non-profit).
Enhanced Food Handlers Certification
Survey results highlighted that the most job layoffs occurred in the food service sector. Coconino County and Northern Arizona University rapidly launched the Enhanced Food Handler’s Certification the first week July 2020. The online training and testing is free for employees and businesses to become Certified COVID AWARE. Those businesses displaying the Certified COVID AWARE emblem on their premises indicate they have completed the online training based on direct guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). Additional information on the details of this certification can be found online here:
Weekly Grant Opportunities Report
While customer demand gradually returns, the reduced revenue challenge still exists for most businesses and organizations, and many have turned to grant funding opportunities for help. The greatest challenge for businesses seeking grant funding is identifying: From Whom, When, and For What Purpose. To address this, the Economic Development Department leveraged its own Grant Management Software to identify funding opportunities that are available across the country from private foundations, government entities and corporate philanthropic organizations. A Grant Opportunity Report is distributed each week and is specially customized for Coconino County non-profits, private entities, Native American tribes, schools, tribal organizations and academic institutions. Review the hundreds of potential revenue sources online here: coconino.az.gov/2435/Grant-Opportunities
I personally invite you to contact me over the phone or via email. In addition to these programs, there are dozens of others that may fit your specific case. A 10-minute phone call can provide thousands of dollars in additional business revenue. FBN
By Chris Vasquez Pasterz
Chris Vasquez Pasterz is the economic development manager for Coconino County. He can be reached at email@example.com or 928-679-7134 | 928-225-5650.