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During a June 18 meeting via Zoom, Las Cruces Economic Recovery Ad Hoc board (LCERAHB) members discussed ways to build public confidence in frequenting local businesses as the city economy continues to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
LCERAHB was established by the city council to make recommendations to help guide safe reopening. It will dissolve when the economy is fully reopened.
Visit Las Cruces Marketing Director Paul Dahlgren made a presentation about the New Mexico Safe Promise program, which was unveiled this month by the New Mexico Hospitality Association, as “an initiative open to all businesses and individuals in New Mexico who want to demonstrate their personal commitment to following COVID-safe practices.”
Individuals and businesses can take the New Mexico Safe Promise pledge at www.nmsafepromise.org. Dahlgren said the program can help rebuild consumer confidence and will expand to include additional industries and will build a directory of certified businesses.
“Take the pledge and spread the word,” Dahlgren said.
LCERAHB member Jolene Martinez, clinical director for Families and Youth, Inc., said the city should consider a local version of New Mexico Safe Promise to recognize local businesses and nonprofits “that are willing to commit to practices that still serve vulnerable families.”
“How do we continue to protect people as we reemerge?” she asked.
Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Debbi Moore, LCERAHB vice chair, suggested that businesses post their cleaning schedules. She also supported a local marketing campaign to build consumer confidence during COVID-19.
Board member George Miller said following New Mexico Department of Health recommendations is essential in re-opening businesses.
Some type of city-sponsored certification of businesses following COVID-19 safe practices is needed as part of a “big campaign” about what the city, businesses and nonprofits are doing to be safe, said board member Sharon Thomas, a former city councilor.
The focus needs to be, “You can feel comfortable and this is why,” said LCERAHB chair Christopher Schaljo, co-owner of Salud! de Mesilla.
Part of building public confidence is making local consumers aware that the percentages of Doña Ana County residents not infected with COVID-19 and the recovery rate of those who are infected are both very high, board member Doug Cowan said. That’s part of the board’s mission to maximize local success in dealing with COVID-19 while not minimizing the risk, said Cowan, of Cornerstone Baptist Church/Cornerstone Christian Academy, who represents nonprofits on the board.
City Business Development Administrator Mandy Guss made a presentation about the city’s micro-loan program to assist businesses, and LCERAHB member Jo Ann Garay said Doña Ana Community College’s Small Business Development Center is providing training and consultations to help new and existing businesses during COVID. She can be reached at 575-527-7676.
LCERAHB meets at 10 a.m. every Thursday via Zoom, with meetings presented live on youtube.com/clctv20. The next meeting will be June 25. The agenda for that meeting will include transportation, safe practices to build public confidence in frequenting local businesses during COVID-19 and worker support.
LCERAHB membership also includes Ronald Fitzherbert, Jane Bloom, Blana Veronica Archuleta, Brooke Montgomery and Michael Harris. The city council has three additional slots on the board to fill.
For meeting agendas, visit www.las-cruces.org/AgendaCenter and scroll down to Las Cruces Economic Recovery Ad Hoc Board.