Here is a summary of the business resources and financial assistance provided by the Big Sky Chamber and Visit Big Sky to ALL Big Sky businesses, not just our member businesses.
- COVID-19 Crisis Communications – website, email, database, social media platforms, events calendar/webinars
At the onset of the crisis, the Big Sky Chamber established a COVID-19 Updates and Resources landing page for the Big Sky business community, updated hourly with the continued evolution of emergency financial response from the federal and state level. This was complimented by e-mails and social posts communicating out much needed information in an aggregated and consumable manner. This included events listings/webinars pertinent to topics such as the various loans, unemployment and HR-related issues and the development of operating/sanitation policy guidelines from numerous agencies. We utilized existing staff and resources, along with the volunteers to make this program possible.
Both the Big Sky Chamber and Visit Big Sky created landing pages to keep our residents/visitors informed of the TakeOut/Deliver and now Dine-in Options at our local bars and restaurants, encouraging everyone to #ShopSmall #ShopLocal, with a #TakeOutThursday weekly promotion highlighting a particular restaurant and directing the public to these resources. We utilized existing staff and resources, along with the volunteers to make this program possible.
- Big Sky Chamber EMPLOYEE | EMPLOYER HOTLINE
Big Sky Chamber worked with the Big Sky Community Organization who through COVID-19 compiled a group of volunteers, and created an EMPLOYEE | EMPLOYER Assistance Hotline. Hours of Operation were Tues & Thurs from 10:30am-12noon for both Individuals who needed help filing Unemployment Insurance and Businesses looking to apply for EIDL/Advance and PPP Loans. We utilized existing staff and resources, along with volunteers to make this program possible.
- $17,500 – Phase 2 RE-Opening Bundles with PPE
The Friday leading into Memorial Day Weekend, one of the most traveled weekends of the year, the Big Sky Chamber and VBS purchased, packaged and delivered 80 Re-Opening Bundles containing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, signage and floor decals for social distancing to consumer-facing businesses.
This was funded via re-purposing $210,000 in Big Sky Chamber and Visit Big Sky FY20 Allocations from BSRAD. Both the Big Sky Chamber and Visit Big Sky have applied for the Montana Adaptability Grant which was just increased to up to $10,000 for reimbursement for related PPE and cleaning supply/sanitation product expenses.
- $192,500 – Big Sky Save Small Business Relief Fund
Modeled after the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s program, the Big Sky Save Small Business Relief Fund granted out a total of $192,500 to 57 businesses in the amount of $2,500 to businesses with 1-5 employees, and $5,000 to those with 6-20 employees. All businesses that applied and were eligible received funding. Eligibility requirements included 1) 20 employees or less, 2) physical located within the BSRAD or a tax-collecting business operating within the district, and 4) current on tax collection and remittance through month end February. It was decided that only the board would be given the names of businesses that received grants to be respectful of in many cases with the sole proprietors, an individual’s privacy. Remaining monies will be used to purchase through Roxy’s and assemble Reopening bundles with PPE such as masks, hand sanitizer, gloves, plexiglass, “We’re Open” signage and social distancing floor decals to distribute to our businesses. In addition, in response to COVID-19 the Big Sky Chamber created an Employer/Employee Hotline offering them assistance with filing UI claims and EIDL and PPP Loans. This was funded via re-purposing $210,000 in Big Sky Chamber and Visit Big Sky FY20 Allocations from BSRAD.
- $92,500 – Helping Big Sky to Stay Safe/Open: Equipping Big Sky Businesses with Masks & Signage
Leading into the 4th of July holiday weekend, the Big Sky Chamber purchased and distributed 50,000 masks and posters to our local businesses. A group of local businesses including the Big Sky Chamber, Visit Big Sky, Roxy’s Market, and Hungry Moose Market & Deli (2x locations) were all willing to mandate masks at that time. Shortly thereafter, Big Sky Resort joined that effort, without either the state or Gallatin County willing to do so via mandate. Governor Bullock then on July 15 mandated masks and to #MaskUpMT. An additional purchase of 100,000 masks was made and continues to provide them free of charge to Big Sky businesses. This was made possible through a grant from Big Sky Relief and BSRAD. BSRAD as a result of the Governor’s recently announced grant for Local Governments, is seeking reimbursement for these expenses.
- Weekly Regional Tourism RECOVERY Calls
Stemming out of the weekly Regional Economic Recovery & Resiliency calls, VBS and the City of Bozeman instituted weekly Regional Tourism RECOVERY Calls on Wednesdays at 11am. Nearing 40 participants, this call unites tourism stakeholders from YNP concessionaires, local government, resorts, lodging, restaurants/retail, attractions, Tourism Region/CVBs to keep everyone updated on where we all are across Gallatin and Park Counties, to address the continually evolving COVID-19 situation and to cascade best practices.
- Take the Big Sky Pledge
Public Health messaging created by Visit Big Sky and shared out on its owned media channels and on banner signage located through the community. In working with Big Sky Town Center and private businesses, VBS supported the messaging of STAY SAFE – STAY OPEN – STAY STRONG: Keep our residents, front line workers and visitors safe, our businesses open and our community safe by doing your part – #MaskUpMT and follow CDC guidelines. Private dollars were used to implement the STAY campaign.
- Montana Tourism Safety Grant – Montana Aware Statewide Initiative
Visit Big Sky has received $225,000 to support statewide public health messaging via this initiative for our residents and our visitors. Launched on July 29, this campaign continues to carry forward that masks are mandated, along with CDC guidelines on slowing the spread of COVID-19. The state of Montana via its $1.25B allocation from the federal CARES Act allocated $15M to the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development for this campaign with $10M staying with VisitMT and the remaining $5M distributed to the Tourism Regions/CVBs.
Here is the website where all grants reside coming forth from the Governor’s Coronavirus Emergency Relief Task Force from the CARES Act $1.25B allocation: