Members of the Paris & District Chamber of Commerce Tell Their Pandemic Success Stories
As a supporter of small businesses Enterprise Brant is aware of the tremendous amount of pressure and angst that COVID has created. At Enterprise Brant we understand many businesses were adversely affected. When the lockdown happened, we took immediate action, offering all our clients interest-only loan payments for 3 months, we have since extended that for many clients. Several clients requested no payments as their businesses were closed, we helped them by approving the request. We advised clients of special COVID relief assistance, participated in special community sessions, offered up a special relief loan with up to $40,000, up to 25% forgivable and no interest to 2023.
While lending and business counselling is our primary service, the Enterprise Brant Board reviewed the situation and decided to make an additional $100,000 available to assist community organizations impacted by COVID. We are open by appointment only, and we have continued to offer the best service we can. It will be a long road to recovery for many businesses and not for profits in Brant County, so if you need help, call us. We are doing our best to support you through this.
Five Oaks is a not-for-profit Interfaith/Intercultural spiritual centre located in Paris Ontario, originally founded as a United Church training facility in 1952. We offer our own retreats and programs, and also provide a sacred natural setting for facility rentals by groups, organizations and personal retreats, with cozy accommodations, meals from an on-site chef and 117 acres of forest, fields and trails on the banks of the Grand River.
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, we saw our business plummet as a result of the restrictions placed on large gatherings. However, we knew there was a way to leverage our resources of accommodations and food services to contribute to our community and essential workers. This resulted in us reaching out to the various levels of government to offer our assistance. Brant County reached out and in late March we were connected with an area farm searching for a location to house their foreign agricultural workers arriving to Canada and needing to serve a 14-day quarantine period. We immediately began reorganizing our 160-bed facility to accommodate these unique guests, and on Saturday, April 18th we welcomed our first 40 guests to stay for their 14-day quarantine period. Since then we have hosted over 235 short-term stays and 51 long-term stays from 10 farms, resulting in over 6,000 bed nights and almost 10,000 meals served.
In addition to acting as an isolation centre, Five Oaks utilized it’s 117 acre property to develope a new summer day camp program, The Acorn Adventure Camp, to care for area children as COVID-19 restrictions moved to Stage 3 and more parents headed back to work. Although we were only able to serve a small number of children this summer due to the day-camp and childcare regulations to promote social distancing, we wanted to provide this service in order to stand in solidarity with those who work on the frontlines and those who were returning back to an in-person work setting and needed a childcare solution. We provided 100 children and families with a safe and memorable summer focused on nature and outdoor fun. Activities included games, crafts, creek study, nature science, campfires, hikes, daily swimming in the Five Oaks pool, and a rafting adventure down the Grand River.
During these unprecedented times Five Oaks has been honoured to both help contribute to Canada’s food security and help Flatten the Curve by acting as an isolation zone, and to support parents and caregivers by providing a safe day camp setting to care for their children. In addition, knowing that being on the sacred land of Five Oaks has brought our guests – both young and old – some peace and joy while they are caught in the middle of this pandemic, and has been a surprising way to fulfill the mission of what Five Oaks stands for.
Habitat for Humanity Brant-Norfolk
Habitat for Humanity Brant-Norfolk believes that everyone should have a safe, decent, affordable place to call home. The ReStore is the social enterprise of Habitat for Humanity, and helps make our affordable Homeownership program possible.
When Covid-19 hit, we had to close our doors to the public. Then our online ReStore was launched, which meant shoppers could browse our inventory from the comfort and safety of their homes. We could operate on a skeleton staff, and purchases could be picked-up curbside. At the time we could not accept donations. Once we were able to re-open the ReStore doors to the public, it was more important than ever that we have the support of volunteers; we implemented new health and safety procedures and protocols that required additional time, attention and effort from staff. They needed support. We welcomed volunteers back at the end of May (so long as they felt comfortable and safe to return). Since then, we have slowly grown to about 40% of our previous ReStore volunteer company – including returning and new volunteers. We are so grateful to them!
Recent events have highlighted just how important a safe and stable home can be. The uncertainty we have all experienced this year is the ongoing reality for many families coping with housing instability. For those of us blessed with a secure roof over our heads, weathering this pandemic may seem like an inconvenience. But for far too many in our community – those who live in unaffordable, unsafe or overcrowded conditions – staying home to stay safe is not just inconvenient. It is impossible. Thanks to our amazing volunteers and dedicated staff working together, the ReStore is running and we can keep building community!
Brantford-Brant Twin Valley Zoo
We were so very worried and uncertain at the beginning of all this. Our huge success has been because of our beautiful community. We have met more people and made more connections this year than ever before. In a very uncertain time, we were able to open our doors with the rallying and support of our community. We truly felt the love pour in when people shared their stories and memories they’d created here throughout the years and generations of their families.
Through that we have been able to provide a place where families can safely enjoy the outdoors and connect with animals and nature.
Paris Twisted Treats
Wow! Have we had to pivot!
Paris Twisted Treats was schedule to open Easter weekend to start serving our delicious ice cream when Covid hit.
So we thought why don’t we open providing in car service. Which means you pull into the parking lot we run to your car and give you a menu, then take your order and go and fill your order receive payment all while you are still sitting in your car. This required 3 more staff per shift, all while requiring a good set of running shoes and serving skills. Not to mention dealing with inclement weather.
We did this format for 7 weeks! Then we revamped our grass area by removing all the seating and marking out strict social distancing line protocols. We purchased large signs outlining these protocols to our customers which are still in place today.
We had also planned to open a second location in downtown Paris. This was delayed due to Covid but we opened our doors in May for ‘What’s the Scoop’ on Mechanic Street. We have also run fundraising events with the donation of sales going to local charities.
At the end of the day Brandon and Melanie Mears could not be prouder to be a part of the small business community in the County of Brant.
CG Print & Design
CG Print & Design, a screen print and design studio in Brantford, had their Grand Opening scheduled for March 28th, 2020. With over a decade of experience in the field and many months of preparation for opening their first brick-and-mortar shop, CG Print & Design was only moments away from finally executing their dream.
But Covid-19 had other plans.
When the lockdown began, they knew they had to shift their business model. They may have locked their doors to the public, but the presses kept turning!
CG Print & Design decided to hold T-Shirt Fundraisers for the vital community organizations that might suffer from the restrictions in place due to Covid. From T-Shirt sales, they raised $2590 for the Brantford Food Bank, $1000 for the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant, $1430 for the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and most recently, $2125 for Nova Vita Brant.
Their arts and apparel organization, zBTFD, was re-imagined as an online store. In the weeks following, zBTFD would gain exposure and increase community involvement with their T-Shirt Tuesdaze project. T-Shirt Tuesdaze highlights independent artists, each for one week, by printing the featured artists work on a T-Shirt and selling them in zBTFD’s online store.
Though the pandemic has changed CG Print & Design’s mode of operation, they feel fortunate to have been able to continue printing custom apparel for many small and medium sized businesses within Brantford, Brant County, Hamilton and Toronto.