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Agencies Providing Free Guidance For Central, South Coast Businesses Hard Hit By Coronavirus


The coronavirus crisis is creating huge financial problems for many businesses on the Central and South Coasts.  Some that have closed may never reopen. 

Rusty’s Pizza has been putting the toppings on pizzas on the South Coast for more than a half century. Like businesses throughout the area, it’s had to cope with issues like the recession, the Thomas Fire, and the Montecito debris flow, all of which have jolted the economy. Now, the coronavirus has created a crisis few saw coming.

Amy McGee says Rusty’s feels fortunate it that it’s been able to keep its eight South Coast locations operating, but not having people sit and eat has brought business down.

It’s been a rough few weeks for the business community on the Central and South Coasts, and it could stay tough even after shuttered restaurants, stores, and other businesses reopen.

Clare Briglio is the Communication and Business Disruption Resource Director for the Economic Development Collaborative. The collaborative is a more than two decade old nonprofit which supports business and nonprofit growth in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles Counties.

Briglio says that unfortunately, the Camarillo-based nonprofit has become very experienced at helping businesses and nonprofits in the region deal with disasters. The nonprofit helped in recovery efforts from the Thomas wildfire, the Montecito debris flow, and the Hill and Woolsey fires.

Briglio says one of the key lessons from the multiple disasters was coordinating relief efforts with other groups, like Women’s Economic Ventures. She says the Economic Development Collaborative is working with other nonprofits and government agencies to help connect businesses, and community groups with support.

Briglio says one of the big messages they have for businesses and nonprofits is that the recovery process isn’t going to be a sprint. She says it’s a marathon, and they need to plan accordingly.

For businesses, that might mean thinking outside of traditional operations, or trying something new. Amy McGee, with Rusty’s Pizza, says they’ve been experimenting to team up with local wineries, so customers can have a pizza and a boutique bottle of wine delivered together.

The Economic Development Collaborative is offering two main types of free support. First, they have phone counselors who can provide information about aid that’s available to businesses. Second, they are hosting a weekly webinar on support services.

You can find out more about the Economic Development Collaborative here.