Murphy: A lot has changed since January 2020
Published 2:16 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2022
When I was elected board chair for what was to be a year-long term in January 2020, none of us had any idea that just two months later the entire world would change. We went into a nation-wide lockdown that affected local supply chains and our businesses struggled to survive during unprecedented circumstances. As if the challenges of the pandemic weren’t enough, 15 months into it, our region was dealt another blow as Hurricane Ida etched her name into our memories.
My one-year term quickly turned into two, and here we are entering our third year of the pandemic. These last few years have thrown all of us for a loop, and our lives are so different than they were at the beginning of 2020. In the time that has passed, some of us mourned the loss of family and friends. And all of us have had to find ways to adapt to a new way of life.
Your Chamber has adapted to the new challenges that post-pandemic and post-Ida life has brought us. This Chamber has survived a global pandemic, a hurricane and many other obstacles that were thrown our way. More than that, we are proud that we were able to help small businesses survive in this uncertain environment. We have been able to pivot our programming from in-person, to virtual, to hybrid. During the early days of the pandemic, the Chamber hosted virtual sessions with elected officials, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Small Business Administration (SBA), and others providing valuable information and services for the hundreds of members that participated. We also opened our doors to the SBA which allowed assistance to over 1,357 businesses and residents with recovery loans totaling $99.4 million from Hurricane Ida. In addition, through partnerships with members and community organizations, we provided over 1,700 meals throughout the three parishes, as well as multiple giveaways of gas cards, cleaning supplies and basic necessities.
Throughout the last two years, I’ve consistently asked our board and members to find their passion and get involved in community outreach. I turned my passion for building a strong women’s network into the Women’s Empowerment Conversations. We had to pivot our scheduled inaugural 2020 conference into a virtual series which became a powerful women’s network. Throughout these challenges, we’ve had to rethink the way we serve you and find ways to serve our members and larger community.
As I end my two-year term, I’d like to take a moment to thank our executive director, incoming board chair, and everyone that has served on the board the past few years. Thank you for your commitment to the Chamber and helping to steer our ship in these turbulent times. Thank you to our businesses that have renewed with us. And finally, thank you to our stakeholders and elected officials that have allowed us to assist in their times of need. We are proud to be a part of the River Region and look forward to helping her grow stronger than ever.
If you are interested in learning more about the Chamber, please reach out to us at (985) 359-9777 or visit our website www.riverregionchamber.org.
Aspen S. Murphy
2020 and 2021; Board Chairwoman, River Region Chamber of Commerce