We have all had to make adjustments in our lives in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Unfortunately for the small businessman or woman, it has resulted in a fatal impact on their livelihoods, while others have struggled to keep their heads above water, especially in the restaurant business.
99% of the businesses in the nation are identified as small businesses. That equates to approximately 31.7 million businesses, which in–turn create two-thirds of net new jobs and drive innovation and competitiveness.
Charities and nonprofits have been similarly impacted. Organizations such as the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, the Marco Island Christmas Island Style Volunteers, and the Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival are all impacted in one way or another.
The Chamber, although a non-profit, was not eligible for PPE monies and was forced to cut staff and limit hours. “Our ability to raise the necessary monies to maintain a full operation were severely impacted,” said Dianna Dohm the Executive Director. “During a time when a number of our membership was severely impacted by the uncertainty of the virus, we had minimal ability to assist them.”
The Christmas Island Style Committee has seen the impact on themselves transfer to 2020 and have begun looking at alternative plans for this year. Steve Stefanides, the Chairman of the Committee, has stated, “We have a wonderful committee of 30 dedicated volunteers that work around the year to prepare for our holiday season. We are saddened, as well as our neighbors and friends that we will have an abbreviated offering of events but made our decisions out of an abundance of caution.
“We will be lighting the two trees we supply, one at Veterans Community Park and the other at the Founders Park. And we encourage families to visit them and take photos, and maybe sit and enjoy the beauty they provide, and we’ll return to our normal program next year. Angels will be placed in the medians and the Christmas Banners hung. We have also been working with the city for a month to come up with an ‘alternative’ style of Santa parade for the children, which will bring forth some of the magic of the season. In addition, we will also be hosting the Christmas Boat Parade which traverses around the waterways of the island, in addition to a couple of other small events.”
The Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival, which was started by the two Rotary Clubs and the Kiwanis Club of Marco and has grown into a major attraction on the island, took a direct hit in 2020 when the virus struck and caused the cancelation of the event.
All three of those clubs will be heavily impacted due to the loss of those revenues regarding the philanthropy giving they do within Marco and the greater Marco Community. “We were just devastated when the virus hit and we chose to protect our members and the general public,” said Festival Chairman Stan Niemczyk who was one of the founders of the event. “For years, we reviewed a number of possible fundraisers that would satisfy the financial needs of all three clubs which are major contributors the special needs of the community. Couple that with the uncertainty of the virus in 2021, and construction constraints within the park, and we will be limited in the philanthropy for what we can do.”
These three on Marco are only an example of just some of the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and how it has affected our community, and we will have follow–ups on others in future editions.