By Alex Guardiola, Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy

I wear it because I care about you and I care about me.

We are in the midst of a pandemic that we haven’t seen the likes of in more than 100 years. On top of this crisis, we are also dealing with the impact of centuries of racism. In some ways, it feels as if we are going back in time.

Divided or Together: A Choice

There is a divisive atmosphere emanating from Washington, D.C. which does little to help address the health and economic crisis we find ourselves in.

Since COVID-19 hit and forced companies to close their doors, the Chamber has pivoted and used all of our resources to help businesses recover. I have learned more about the U.S. Small Business Administration than I ever thought I would. I have digested reams of paper, put in hundreds of hours of screen-time, so that it has become second nature to me. All so that our businesses and our community have the most up-to-date information curated by the Chamber.

I am deeply saddened for those businesses who will not make it to the other side of this pandemic but also gratified by the number of companies that we have helped. Information that we provided about  grants and loans, PPE supplies, reopening information, and many other services that we have provided have made a difference.

The Central Mass. community banking industry worked many extra hours, day and night, to assist businesses with Paycheck Protection loans and are now in the midst of helping them obtain loan forgiveness. They have done this regardless of party lines, politics, or the upcoming election.

We must all continue to work together, something that Central Mass. already has a reputation for doing and for which we can be proud. At this crucial time, let us remember to continue on this path because, now more than ever, we need to tackle this together.

Set an Example for Our Youth

Our children, who need the most attention as they grow and mature, are suffering. There are no sports, no play dates, and watching their parents on Zoom has become a way of life for them.

How can I help? I wear my mask. I try to safely support as many local establishments as I can. We cautiously visit restaurant dining rooms, socially distancing while wearing a mask, and greeting friends with a nod and an elbow bump.

Opening doors is crucial to our economy but we must minimize the risk! We are fortunate to live in a region with some of the best healthcare in the nation. Eventually, there will be a vaccine. But in the meantime, let’s all set an example for our children, and along the way protect their grandparents, parents, and even them. The coronavirus does not discriminate by age.

The Science Says it All

Turning on the television to see people ignoring doctors and scientists, some thinking it can’t happen to them, is nothing less than cringe-worthy. There are even those who believe the virus to be a hoax. To them I pose this: Whether you believe it or not, please wear your mask if not for yourself, for all of us…especially our children.

We are all in this together and it is up to all of us to rebuild our communities and our economies. Take a long walk, pick up a book, order take out and watch a movie with loved ones. It’s time that we work together to beat this killer virus.

A New Look at an Old Problem

Every fall we discuss tax classification and the city’s rate-setting vote. Fortunately for tenants, the governor has extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, but what does that mean for owners of these commercial buildings?

For some businesses, COVID-19 has proven that some employees can work for home, effectively rendering their office space non-essential. If there was ever a time for real dialog about commercial tax rates – it is now.

These businesses are suffering, yet they are still asked daily for donations, sponsorships, and other forms of assistance – and they are still stepping up.

They need our help and we can provide it. By opting for fair and equitable tax rates, where we all share the cost of running a city, we can put down our swords and shields and help Worcester continue to grow.

It is my sincerest hope that this time next year, we will be talking about the great WooSox game we just saw at Polar Park while munching on a hot dog with those who love this community as much as I do.

To get there, we must overcome the heartache of racism and the fear caused by the pandemic. The best way to do this is together. The City of Worcester has it in her and so do you.

I will continue to wear my mask for you and for our future.