Harrisonburg, Rockingham County officials form taskforce to support local businesses

Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 11:46 AM EDT
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Local agencies and organizations from around Harrisonburg and Rockingham County have teamed up to form a "Regional COVID-19 Business Support Taskforce."

According to a statement issued on Thursday, representatives from the City of Harrisonburg Economic Development; Rockingham Department of Economic Development and Tourism; the Shenandoah Valley Partnership; the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center (SVSBDC); Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance; and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce will meet every week to brainstorm ideas, curate resources, share information, and unify efforts to address business and employer concerns at the local level from the coronavirus crisis.

At their first meeting, the new task force says they did the following:

• Coordinated numerous state and federal alerts and proposed programs for business support and funding.

• Distilled information on the first emergency small business loan program, through the Small Business Administration with local support through the SVSBDC.

• Collected data from area employers and the local economy to share with state agencies and federal departments and authorities to assess impacts and support economic relief efforts.

• Began developing a video that educates the public on how and why they should support local businesses during this unprecedented time.

• Worked to launch a continually updated, one-stop shop Google Doc that consolidates COVID-19 business assistance programs and toolkits.

On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam

that Virginia would be submitting an application to the Small Business Administration to authorize Virginia businesses to receive loans through the SBA’s Disaster Loan program.

The SBA’s Disaster Loan program is designed to help small businesses and nonprofits meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot otherwise be met as a direct result of COVID-19.

To learn more about the program, the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center has

. You can also find more directly through the SBA at


The task force says their members "are all working tirelessly on keeping up with fast developing and changing developments, particularly at the federal and state level. Elected officials are keenly aware of the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the measures implemented to stop its spread. The hope is that the actions taken at the federal, state and local levels will result in a faster end to the virus’ impact and a return to a normal business climate.

They encourage people to buy gift cards from local businesses now to help with cash flow so their doors can reopen in the future. They also urge people to shop online and take advantage of the curbside pickups, deliveries, takeout options, or online shopping options offered by local stores.

Task force members include the following:

City of Harrisonburg Economic Development

Brian Shull, Peirce Macgill



(540) 432-7701

Rockingham Department of Economic Development and Tourism

Casey Armstrong, Josh Gooden


(540) 437-9868

Shenandoah Valley Partnership

Jay Langston


(540) 568-3100

Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center

Joyce Krech, Allison Dugan



(540) 568-3227

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance

Andrea Dono


(540) 432-8922

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce

Frank Tamberrino