On Thursday, June 25, SRPC held the presentation portion of its annual meeting as a webinar. The theme, “Innovative Local Economy Adaptations in Response to COVID-19" was discussed by three panelists Emmett Soldati, Jenn Marsh, and Shawn Menard.
Emmett Soldati, Somersworth native and business owner, discussed how his business, Teatotaller, make quick, decisive adaptations to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He shared how Teatotaller changed their business model and shifted to increased online marketing, videos/commercials, and delivery of one of the café's staple refreshments, Boba tea. He even shared that profits in the last few months exceeded normal café revenues.
Jenn Marsh, economic development specialist for the City of Rochester’s Office of Economic Development, presented on how the City adapted to support local businesses during the ongoing pandemic. The City temporarily changed zoning ordinances to support outdoor dining and extended hours. This has supported patronage at restaurants during this difficult time. The City also created a micro-loan program to assist businesses during these challenging times.
Shawn Menard, program manager of Seacoast Eat Local (SEL), talked about the importance of a local food economy and how there has been increased demand with the pandemic. He discussed innovative programs SEL put into place, including working with local independent farms to accept SNAP/EBT benefits at their farm stands. SEL also increased their social media engagement and adapted their mailers and hard copy Seacoast Harvest guide to be robust online materials for consumers.
Attendees were engaged with important questions about carrying some of these practices into future operations, which all three presenters are eager to do.
SRPC thanks its panelists and attendees for making the annual meeting successful despite the format change.
Strafford Regional Planning Commission
150 Wakefield Street, Suite 12
Rochester, New Hampshire 03867
Tel: (603) 994-3500 Fax: (603)994-3504