City leaders share their optimism for businesses in 2021

Jaclyn Harold
Updated: January 08, 2021 06:22 PM
Created: January 08, 2021 06:05 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Rochester Mayor Kim Norton is looking toward the future. She said after watching local businesses close in 2020, some as a result of the pandemic, and others for different reasons, she's looking at the loss from a new perspective.

"Businesses close every year, and I think one of the interesting factors is despite the pandemic we've seen businesses open," she said.

According to a list compiled by radio journalist Jessica Williams with KFIL, over 20 businesses in Rochester closed last year. When Mayor Norton was asked to confirm if she knew exactly how many businesses closed, she said she could not.

"I think there's a lot to feel positive about in our community," said Norton, because she's choosing optimism in the new year.

Mayor Norton said city officials created Rochester Ready last year to help connect businesses and leaders so that they could work together during the pandemic.

With city funding and CARES Act funding over a million dollars has gone to local businesses. Norton said in previous interviews that she acknowledges the funding won't help everyone, but she believes the people of Rochester are resilient and good at reinventing themselves.

In Austin, the President of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce said she has also seen businesses revise their business models to adjust to the restrictions.

"In our chamber, we have 380 members, and they are all sizes. Most of them are small but we also have some large companies as well," said Hansen.

She said she can not speak for businesses outside of the chamber membership, but so far, the chamber has done well with keeping members throughout the closure.

Hansen said as a reminder though, that businesses should partner with their local chambers because they're able to relay issues and concerns with city officials for support. 

"The chamber is often seen as the voice of businesses in the community. Make sure we know what your challenges and your concerns are so that we can articulate those to the elected officials, and so that together we can reinforce that message of the things that need to happen at the government levels to help support businesses," she said.

Officials encourage people to continue shopping and buying locally, especially with restrictions dialing back. Hansen said the need to support local businesses has not changed.

Mayor Norton said she agrees with the urge to support locals, but she's also hoping that the community will start to look at the way we came together.

"I think we have a lot to look forward to. We're a strong community, we're a resilient community and I think it's going to show very very shortly," said Norton.


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