The rapid spread of coronavirus throughout the Garden State reached Camden County during the week of March 15, and took root in Cherry Hill the following week with at least eight confirmed cases.
In response to recent state-mandated closures of non-essential businesses, the township’s Business Council has been discussing ways for merchants to stay vital whether still open, operating with reduced hours or capacity or shut down due to the pandemic.
According to Cherry Hill Township Director of Policy, Planning and Programs Chris Summerhays, for the time being, municipal officials will direct small businesses within the three-zip-code area to access the New Jersey Small Business Association website at njsbdc.com/coronavirus.
The NJSBA has compiled a list of resources — sure to grow, per Summerhayes — for small businesses to utilize while Gov. Phil Murphy’s standing order that all non-essential entities be closed down until further notice is in effect.
“We’re keeping our eyes on the federal stimulus package, and once those resources are available, we will coordinate with county, state, and federal agencies, business associations, and chambers of commerce to push those resources to Cherry Hill businesses,” Summerhayes said.
“We’ll do the same for employees and families impacted by this global crisis,” he added. “In the longer term, we’re looking at the health and safety of Cherry Hill residents now, so once Gov. Murphy lifts the shutdown order, our businesses are in a position to thrive.”
Cherry Hill’s multiple retail centers, such as the Market Place at Garden State Park, also include a number of big-box, or franchised stores, like Best Buy, Panera Bread, Wegmans, Chipotle and Verizon. These businesses have a major footprint, but whether they have been deemed essential or not for the time being, their overall health won’t be such an immediate concern.
“I think they could best speak to their corporate policies. Bigger box stores typically have better access to capital,” Summerhayes offered.
“Nevertheless, like small businesses they will fare better, as will the community on the whole, if we stay at home, slow the spread, and move past this as quickly as is safe.”