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Bemidji Chamber supports efforts to reopen economy in safe manner

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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce is joining its state counterpart in reviewing ways to reopen the Minnesota economy.

The effort is based on concern for local businesses that have had to close or reduce their services as the state attempts to wrestle the coronavirus, a release said. The Chamber is working with local, state and federal partners to find a safe solution to the situation.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is hosting a call with Gov. Tim Walz this week and as a federation partner, the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce will be a part of that call, the release said.

Last week, Walz extended executive orders directing Minnesotans to stay at home except for essential services through May 18 to continue slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

"Businesses throughout the state are preparing to fully return to work and taking steps to do so responsibly," Bemidji Chamber Chair Ashley Johnson said in the release. "We urge our local businesses to do the same. The Minnesota Chamber plans to urge the governor to continue to recognize that businesses can and have designed plans for safe work environments and we will encourage him to allow more businesses to return to work as possible."

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The local Chamber is also working to create materials to help businesses develop a plan to comply with proper reopening efforts. The information will be available on the Chamber's website, www.bemidji.org , under the COVID-19 resource section.

"The board of directors know that small businesses are the backbone of our economy," Executive Director Abby Randall said. "Our advocacy efforts continue to be our top priority. If business owners have questions or requests, we encourage them to get in touch with us. We want our weekly roundtable discussions to help business owners to get actionable insight and information to navigate important government programs and to keep their business running during this unprecedented time."

The Chamber also encourages community members to continue to support locally owned businesses by ordering takeout or delivery from area restaurants or through the purchase of gift certificates or donations through the Gifts of Hope Fund, the release said.

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