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How small businesses are making big changes in the face of crisis

In the U.S. businesses are adapting their models or changing what products or services they are producing. Here are some innovative examples.

Houston and Fort Wayne Distilleries

The largest distillery in Houston, Gulf Coast Distillers, has announced that it will shift production from spirits – to hand sanitizer in an effort to help combat the spread of COVID-19. The CEO of the distillery, Carlos De Aldecoa, said because they were in the alcohol and ethanol business – it seemed like the right time to begin production of the sanitizer as soon as possible. In Fort Wayne, Three Rivers Distillery has also made the adjustment to produce sanitizer – thanks to partnerships with local businesses to source the necessary ingredients, the distillery has been able to produce gallons of hand sanitizer so far.

Restaurant Turns Grocery Store

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, the general manager of Hall’s Gas House restaurant – a restaurant settled in a historic gas plant – has opened the doors of the restaurant and its inventory up to the public. In a makeshift grocery store that general manager Ben Hall calls The Water Street Mercantile, local residents can buy produce, meat, dairy – and even beer, wine or toilet paper. Hall estimates on their first day alone, March 18, they sold about $400 worth of food to shoppers.

Tutoring App Takes Colleges Online

As schools and universities across the country transition to remote learning, a Tampa, Florida tutoring app called Knack, is helping institutions make a smooth adjustment. Knack’s existing online tutoring interface allows the company to help its existing partners, such as Florida A&M University, migrate to a completely virtual environment powered by Knack. The tutoring application is also offering free unlimited access to students until campuses return to normal.

Birmingham Helps Businesses Stay Strong

A new fund has been created to help small business effected by COVID-19 in Birmingham, Alabama. The Birmingham Strong Fund is an emergency loan fund for local businesses to help offset losses, maintain employment and boost the local economy. The fund was started in partnership with the City of Birmingham, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and the Birmingham Business Resource Center, which will administer what will become a revolving loan fund. The fund is also part of a larger initiative – Birmingham Strong, which aims to provide facts about how the coronavirus is impacting the city, track the impacts in real-time and help stabilize the local economy.

City of Raleigh Takes Restaurants Curbside

As restaurants and dining establishments in Raleigh, North Carolina explore how to continue to serve customers, the City of Raleigh is moving quickly to assist their efforts. When the executive order for restaurants to stop dine-in service came last Tuesday, the city moved quickly to establish curbside pickup zones Wednesday throughout downtown and other popular areas so that residents can support local restaurants, and the businesses can continue to operate. The curbside pickup zones are fluid, and businesses and other organizations are welcomed to suggest new or changed zone locations.

Louisiana CEO Creates Gift Card Challenge

Stephen Waguespack, President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, recently issued a challenge to his employees. This was to buy a $100 gift card to a local business, and he committed to cover the cost for them in full. The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry is also challenging all 2,000 of its employer members to sponsor $100 gift cards to local restaurants for their employees.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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