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Not crying Wolf: All business is essential

It’s funny the things that occupy your thoughts when circumstances like a pandemic afford you rare opportunities to think.

It has been little more than a week since Gov. Tom Wolf rendered our chamber of commerce “non-essential” and mandated that whatever we were doing on behalf of the local business community should come to an abrupt halt.

He didn’t really say that to chambers in particular, of course, even though that’s what I heard as I tried to assess our value pitted against those on the essential business list.

So, as I reluctantly emerge from crybaby mode, allow me to share with you some of my observations as they pertain to a health crisis that none of us could have imagined even a month ago.

— There really are no non-essential businesses. By their nature, businesses are the economic engines that drive a community and make growth possible. All play a significant role. The governor, a man with an impressive vocabulary, should have chosen a better word.

— Thank God for a mild winter. Can you imagine the heightened calamity we’d be facing if our current challenges were occurring with a couple feet of snow on the ground? I’m certain there are those who would insist that the weather is really irrelevant if you can’t go anywhere. They might be right. But when was the last time that lousy weather helped anyone to remain positive during a difficult situation?

— My regrets to the folks operating Blue Knob and to the people in the snow removal business whose livelihoods were compromised by the mild winter. It’s true that you never really can paint everyone with the same broad brush.

— It’s a rather scary proposition that ammunition sales are up considerably at a time when barber shops and beauty salons are not permitted to remain open. As a person with little hair to begin with, I’m starting to become concerned about having to endure several more weeks of unmanaged hair growth. The people who are accustomed to regular visits to their barber or stylist — and who actually have hair — are likely approaching a higher degree of desperation. Look out.

— Among the questionable decisions that I made prior to closing the chamber office was attaching my cell phone number to the informational greeting on our answering machine. I got some interesting calls, including one from a sweet older lady who sought my help to escape from her nursing home because she was unhappy with the seating arrangement in the facility’s dining room. I’m still working on that one.

— All things considered, I’ve been incredibly impressed with what I’ve seen and heard from the people in our community who have gone out of their way to find reason in highly unreasonable circumstances. So many restaurants have reported selling record numbers of gift cards to people who were only buying them to lessen the financial impact on those businesses. At a time of uncertainty, when stepping-up takes a heavy dose of courage, we’ve had no shortage of heroes.

If all the mandates were lifted immediately, the business community would still have a considerable uphill climb. As a business organization, we are doing whatever we can to lessen the impact so that the recovery period, when it comes, will be manageable.

Working together, as we’ve always done, we can’t help but be successful.

Joe Hurd is the President/CEO of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

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