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Officials, business leaders meet

As New York prepares for a reopening period, County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort gathered local business leaders and other stakeholders on Wednesday morning for a collaborative digital discussion about ways to assist businesses as they adjust to revised health and safety standards. (Photo submitted)

FONDA — Local business leaders collaborated at a Montgomery County Business Advisory Committee meeting to discuss how to prepare for reopening as businesses adjust to the revised health and safety standards.

As some regions in New York are preparing to reopen this month, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort, the county’s Business Advisory Committee, along with local business leaders held a virtual meeting on Wednesday to discuss public health and safety, business preparedness and available resources, along with a broad range of topics, touching on the county’s ongoing testing initiatives, expanding tracing protocols and the needs of the business community.

The Business Advisory Committee was established in January by Ossenfort and the county’s Business Development Center to foster a pro-jobs, pro-growth dialogue. A majority of the quarterly meeting was focused around the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on the business community and how the county can further assist businesses preparing to reopen. During the video conference held on Wednesday, the committee and business leaders agreed to increase its meeting frequency to help provide continued, ongoing feedback about the challenges businesses are facing as the state begins the reopening process.

“We’ve seen firsthand throughout this crisis the tightknit bond that embodies our community and the frequent reminders that we are stronger together. While the pandemic has upended much of our daily lives, we want to ensure that businesses and employees have the resources they need as we prepare for a new normal, once the governor and state health officials give the Mohawk Valley region the green light to start reopening,” Ossenfort said. “Having an open dialogue with our business community and other key stakeholders helps us respond quickly to needs and concerns that ensure continued public health and safety. It’s why we started the Advisory Committee and now it’s more important than ever.”

“We’re going to bring on our public health officials for our next committee meeting, so business leaders can receive further guidance about safety procedures that will protect employees who may be returning to work or having increased interactions with the public,” Ossenfort continued. “Our goal is keeping everyone safe, healthy, and moving forward with the reopen process.”

According to the release, business leaders who participated in the virtual meeting also expressed appreciation for the Business Development Center’s PPE mask initiative that is providing free masks for small businesses in the county who are having trouble securing needed personal protective equipment.

“We know many of our businesses are preparing for what comes next. That means securing necessary PPE, understanding the health safety procedures, and having plans in place to ensure continued social distancing measures. Our office is here to be a resource for those businesses,” said BDC CEO Ken Rose, whose office will continue to coordinate the committee’s meetings and will be doing additional outreach to the business community about their COVID-related concerns.

“As we reopen it will be important to keep the process moving forward so businesses can get back on their feet quickly. We continue to explore ways that the county can connect businesses with critical financial assistance and other resources,” Rose said.

According to the release, the Business Advisory Committee is also continuing efforts to address non-COVID related issues that were raised during the group’s inaugural meeting in March. County officials continue to have discussions with business leaders around increasing access to childcare and other initiatives. The committee is also continuing to develop previously discussed subgroups who will actively explore supplemental topics.

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