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Business disruption in WNY could extend eight weeks, says Amherst Chamber president

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 14:58:56-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — With so many businesses closed and many more people without a job, because of the coronavirus, many people are unsure about the future of the business landscape.

"This could be a disruption of eight weeks," A.J. Baynes said. Baynes is the President and CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

In an exclusive Instagram live interview, Baynes said some businesses only have a rainy day fund available for a disruption of up to one week. He explained that so many small businesses are using lines of credit to survive and most won't be able to sustain two months without business.

"It is an alarming time," Baynes said. "There's a lot of fear and uncertainty in the business community."

The Amherst Chamber of Commerce works with more than 1,000 members across Erie County. Baynes said he's telling business owners to try and hold on.

"We need to make sure the workforce is healthy and safe and make sure procedures are in place to get them open and reinvented," Baynes said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce put out this information about loans for small businesses. It's part of the government's $2 trillion stimulus package.

While the Small Business Administration is offering loan packages, some could turn into grant programs.

"We want to make sure everyone who needs this program has access to this program," Baynes said. There will be a flood of applications, so he said applying early could make a difference.

The chamber is working with small businesses using technology. It's connecting with owners and members using platforms like Zoom.

Baynes said he's telling businesses to embrace new technology to reinvent themselves and to stay positive.

"These are unprecedented times," Baynes said. "These are unique situations. Stay healthy. Practice social distancing."

If your business is essential and you have employees at work, he said to "make sure your businesses are providing proper regulations for employees so we have a healthy workforce."

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