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Chamber allocates $25K to businesses

BEVERLY–The Muskingum Valley Beverly Waterford Chamber of Commerce has been doing its part to help businesses that may be struggling due to COVID-19.

“We have around 150 members and hate that any of them could be struggling to pay bills or keep their doors open,” said Sam Skinner, chairman of the board of the Muskingum Valley Beverly Waterford Chamber of Commerce.

Skinner said the chamber had some money saved over the years, so it allocated $25,000 to help businesses in need.

“We had five members apply for aid and we have been able to give out four of those checks so far,” said Skinner.

One of the four businesses to receive a grant was Adkins Lumber.

“We had to lay off 13 of our 26 employees, which was hard, because many of those workers have been with us for 20 plus years and are like family,” said Stephanie Adkins, an office manager.

Adkins said that many people had to be laid off, because there were no lumber orders and the mill had to be shut down.

Adkins Lumber is going on eight weeks of being shut down.

Adkins explained that although most of their business comes from large companies, they do work with smaller businesses and local farms as well.

“Our shutdown has been hard on some local farms, who cannot get sawdust for animal bedding,” said Adkins.

Adkins said the grant money will be used as the company moves forward, but they have yet to decide on a specific use.

“Our break room needs updated; there are still costs for operation and business has been down; there are multiple ways we could put that money to good use,” said Adkins.

Skinner said that the chamber is working to help remind the community that the local businesses are still kicking.

“We just opened our doors for dining this morning,” said Chris Baker, the managing owner of Riverbend Family Dining, another grant receiver.

Baker said the grant helped to get things rolling.

“Although we were open for carryout, our business was not as high as usual,” said Baker.

Baker said the business was in need of a new oven and the inside needed to be reorganized to meet social distance guidelines.

Baker said she is thankful that the Muskingum Valley Beverly Waterford Chamber of Commerce has been helping community businesses.

Charlene Wagner, owner of First Impressions Salon in Beverly, was another grant recipient.

According to Wagner, the salon had to be shut down for eight week, and only recently opened for appointments only.

“It has been quite the change,” said Wagner.

“We have had to put up barriers between stations, only the client is allowed in, take a list of everyone who enters and have them sign a waiver to be sure they are symptom free and have not had contact with anyone positive for 14 days and are only allowed to work on one client at a time.”

Wagner said that although opening back up is helping bring in revenue, no walk-ins are allowed and it is impossible to just “squeeze people in”.

“We are trying to get into the groove of everything, because we have no idea if or when things will be back to normal,” said Wagner.

The chamber also is sponsoring BW bucks as a way to encourage people to shop local.

“There are around 60 participating hometown businesses that will accept the BW bucks,” said Skinner.

BW bucks are community gift certificates that can be used at several businesses such as restaurants, gas stations and hair salons.

Adkins Lumber, Riverbend Family Dining and First Impressions Salon are among the participating businesses as well.

Skinner said that for every $20 of BW bucks bought, the buyer will receive a $5 buck for free.

“So if someone was needing groceries, they could purchase $60 worth of BW bucks and would receive $75, which they could take to an IGA and spend,” said Skinner.

Skinner said that the chamber will continue to look for ways to help the businesses in the community.

“We have a great community,” said Skinner.

“It is not the biggest community, but it is a great one full of people who care and continuously support the community businesses.”

Madeline Scarborough can be reached at mscarborough@newsandsentinel.com

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