Retailers and restaurants across the Commonwealth have seen sales plummet amid one of the worst outbreaks in U.S. history. Governor Charlie Baker has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, a prudent decision which aids the state’s public health efforts to protect the health and well-being of our citizens but will likely have a long-lasting impact on the state’s business community.

While following safety guidelines, we must not minimize the critical role that businesses and retailers large and small play in our economy and in our lives.

Cities and towns on the North Shore – where our company is based – have increased in population since the 2010 census count, making it one of the most thriving regions in the state. And the North Shore Chamber of Commerce represents more than 1,500 businesses and industries of all sizes. Now more than ever, it is essential that we support local businesses during this pivotal time.

The government is doing what it can in terms of financial relief for the Commonwealth’s small business community, which employs nearly half of the state’s workforce. Still, there are myriad ways residents can stay engaged as well. Many local restaurants are offering delivery and pickup to serve their communities and maintain jobs for their employees. Other area merchants are also be providing delivery or curbside pickup options.

Buying gift cards is another way to sustain your favorite restaurants and stores – from hair salons to toy shops. You can also check to see which services are now available online, from art classes to fitness programs.

At JM Electrical, we are committed to giving back to the communities in which we work. As part of that commitment, we support a number of organizations that represent causes we feel passionately about, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Wentworth Institute of Technology. Earlier this year, we announced the completion of a holiday winter clothing drive and fundraising campaign to benefit The Clothing Connection, a local nonprofit organization that has served the Salem community since 2016.  Additionally, we order lunches daily for our JM employees in support of local restaurants and shops.

However, as COVID-19 has impacted all Massachusetts businesses – including ours – we have expanded our work with local shops as part of our pandemic response. For instance, we recently purchased 55 masks from Jerry’s Upholstery & Home Decorating in Lynnfield to ensure our field workers are safe while supporting a long-time local establishment.

For many businesses like ours, as well as the dedicated staff working on the front lines at our many respected hospitals and health care facilities, this crisis has underscored the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the acquisition of more essential items such as masks and gloves. It is a testament to the resourcefulness of businesses headquartered on the North Shore that we were able to secure masks in our own backyard.

There are other local businesses adapting to the “new normal” necessitated by the current pandemic. Short Path Distillery in Everett began manufacturing hand sanitizer after the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved distillers to supply this essential product. Other local distillers producing their own hand sanitizer includes Deacon Giles Distillery in Salem.

At a time when the pandemic’s grip has already slowed business activity, it is important to patronize businesses across Massachusetts in any way we can. At JM Electrical, supporting the community has always been a part of our mission, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to help during this period of great uncertainty.

Original Article BLDUP