From CWE North Community Improvement District: COVID-19 Economic Development Update

From Kate Haher, executive director:

Please see the update below from the St. Louis Economic Development Corporation outlining resources available during this crisis.

St. Louis Development Corporation is working with our regional partners to provide information, resources, and assistance to small businesses. We are here to help. Please check out the resources below and go to their websites for the most current information and applications. If you need assistance, please call the Small Business Resource Hotline at 314-615-1777.

COVID-19 Regional Business Information Center

The St. Louis Regional Chamber is keeping the most up-to-date website to provide information on COVID-19, with information on business resources, regional resources, travel, and event updates. Please check it often to see the latest information. You can find that website here.

Regional Impact Survey

Please fill out the Regional Impact Survey so we can learn more about your needs and how we can serve you better. You can find the Regional Impact Survey here.

Small Business Resource Fund

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and the St. Louis Development Corporation are offering a zero percent interest loan of up to $5,000 for small businesses in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County that have sustained economic damage due to the COVID-19 crisis. Loan details can be found here.

Apply here. For questions about the program, please email bizhelp@stlpartnership.com.

St. Louis Community Foundation Regional Response Fund

The St. Louis Community Foundation has established two funds to help small businesses and nonprofits.

The Gateway Resilience Fund will help provide short-term monetary relief to small locally-owned businesses and their employees.

The Regional Response Fund was established to direct aid to local nonprofit organizations delivering services to people affected by the virus including children, the elderly, and isolated. To learn more, click here.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). All businesses in Missouri and Illinois are eligible to apply. Loans can be made for up to $2 million. Submit an application to SBA for a disaster loan at here. For more information on the three step process for obtaining a disaster loan, click here.

America’s SBDC – Missour

To help business owners prepare for the changing circumstances associated with COVID-19, the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) suggests the following steps to take for businesses financially impacted: Find those steps here.

Contact SBDC Business Counselor, Colleen Mulvihill, directly at cmulvihill@stlpartnership.com.

United Way 2-1-1

Serving United Way of Greater St. Louis’ service area and the entire state of Missouri, United Way 2-1-1 connects people to services that help them live their best possible lives – from basic needs to childcare to disaster relief to counseling. For more information, click here.

OTHER RESOURCES

Ameren Missouri Income Relief Program

STL Take It Home supports local businesses.

MO DED Covid-19 Business Resources

 

Appreciating the simple pansy, now more than ever

Nicki's Central West End Guide Shop News Urban Gardens  Holliday Bowood Farms

I don’t know when digging in the dirt has sounded as good as it does now. Here is some good news from Bowood Farms, 4605 Olive. 

Bowood Farm and Holliday are now offering curbside pickup of plant materials Thursdays thru Saturdays from 10:00-3:00. Bowood Farms also offers local delivery. Orders can be placed online at shopbowood.com or shopholliday.com. You can also email your orders to orders@bowoodfarms.  Thank you for your continued support!

Café Osage and The Studio are closed until further notice.

Happy Spring!

It’s that time of year to start planting again and we have just what you need. Click on the categories below to get a full list of what we have available for purchase.

If you would like to place an order please email orders@bowoodfarms.com. Include a full list of plant names and quantities. You can also purchase trees, shrubs, annuals and herbs+ veggies on our website shopbowood.com.

Let’s get planting!

Annuals

Bulbs

Seeds

Shrubs

Trees

Veggies & Herbs

CWEnder David Strom offers suggestions and help with websites for neighborhood restaurants

I live in a very urban part of St. Louis for a reason: it is walkable, it is vibrant, it is near a wonderful park and transit. All of that has changed in the past two weeks.All of these advantages now have to be examined under a different lens.

Like many of you, we are staying home. When we do go out for a walk, it is a bit eerie: the streets are empty. Street parking — which used to be an issue especially weekend evenings — is copiously now available. Meeting other pedestrians used to be under the midwest code: you nod and say hello as you pass. Now we hold our breath and hope that we have enough room on the sidewalk to “socially distance” ourselves.

The dozens of restaurants that were at the core of our community are mostly under lockdown. The ones that are closed have small signs in their windows, hastily printed. The few that are open are only for carryout, under orders of the city. I want to support the ones that are still doing business, even though it is a risk: do I trust the sanitation and health protocols that the restaurateur has adopted in these post-COVID times? Many of these places are run by people I have gotten to know over the years living here. My wife and I eat out frequently. Not anymore.

Still, I feel that I need to do something. So I started looking into how to make it easier for customers to get their meals from the local restaurants. If you are willing to take this risk — and there are many of you that might not even go here — there are three main issues:

First, many local restaurants have terrible websites. One of our favorite places has been in business for decades and is about a three-minute walk from our apartment. It has a single page website with a phone number. No online menu. No online anything, really. Others just have Facebook pages, which aren’t much better. I realize that there are many places which are not tech-savvy. But still, there are many restaurants who are. Take for example this group of local places (none of which sadly is in my neighborhood). They have a very nice website. But that is just first hurdle.

Second, I want to be able to purchase my carryout food online. Here is a complicating factor. There are two typical ways that a restaurant does this: either through a food delivery provider (you can select a pickup option if you don’t want the food delivered) or via the restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) vendor. In our neighborhood, there are at least five different delivery vendors:  DoorDash, UberEasts, Postmates, GrubHub and FoodPedaler (the latter being a hyper-local St. Louis startup that has concentrated in our neighborhood and downtown). Some restaurants have setup accounts with multiple delivery vendors. But many of the places don’t have any accounts with any of these services.

The problem isn’t just technology. The restaurant has to be setup with a place for the pickup orders, or have the workflow for how the delivery provider is going to interact with its staff. These days where interpersonal interaction is scrutinized, that means being extra careful with sanitation.

One way to simplify matters in these dire times is to present just a few choices. That is what Grace Meat + Three has done with their online ordering. You just have two menu choices. Sadly, even this didn’t work, and they had to shut it down this past weekend. As you can see, it is a very fluid situation.

Third, I want to purchase a gift card to provide an interest-free loan to my favorite places. This can be done in one of several ways. The easier way is to use a gift card with one of the food delivery vendors mentioned above. The second method is by using gift cards that are associated with a POS vendor. Clover (shown here), Toast and Square are the three POS vendors that are most often found around here. The rub is that the restaurant has to enable this option, and not everyone has set this up.

Another method of obtaining gift cards is to make use of one of the E-Gift service providers. (Everything is a service nowadays, so why not gift cards?) There are two that I found: Yiftee and TheGiftCardCafe. The latter vendor is waiving its setup fee for new accounts, which is a nice gesture.

Some restaurant websites have direct links to gift card purchases, but most don’t. Usually they are found on the bigger national chains’ websites, which is not where I want to go at the moment. And one local chain listed gift cards on their website home page, but the link brought me to a page saying that it hasn’t been setup yet. FAIL!

One effort has already begun, called CurbSideSTL. It is a good first attempt and does a decent job of listing who is still open and how to order and obtain food. But it lacks direct links to gift cards and online delivery services. I realize that involves a lot more work, but given how quickly things are evolving, it would be more helpful with these links.

So, where does that leave us? If you own a local restaurant, I will give you some help to at least get your carryout menu posted online. If you have a POS system and haven’t gotten online ordering or gift cards setup, I can do this for you. My price is a free meal. Now more than ever, we have to make it easier to do business online.

Comments always welcome here.

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