“Ultimately, your local chamber of commerce is about networking,” said Quad Area Chamber of Commerce President Mark Statz. “One of the biggest functions we have is networking, and that’s become very challenging recently.”
So the Quad and Forest Lake chambers partnered to offering a speed networking lunch and a guest speaker to members at Running Aces. Statz said many of those business leaders have charted unique courses through the challenge of the pandemic and the ensuing governmental guidelines for social distancing and sanitation.
The Chambers’ invited guest was Bill Hanisch, owner of Hansich Bakery and Coffee Shop in Red Wing, who shared how he navigated the stay at home order during the spring. He said he struggled with how to keep his employees and stay in business, and then he was inspired to provide cakes for local high school seniors, who were robbed of the normal graduation rituals because of COVID-19.
Through donations and community partnerships–and buoyed by media and social media coverage of the efforts–Hanisch was able to provide 1,200 cakes for graduates across southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. He was also able to keep his employees.
“It gives me chills just thinking about it,” said Hanisch during his lunchtime talk. “It was unbelievable to see.”
You can watch his entire presentation here.
Hanisch also shared his methodology for marketing his business on his ultra-popular Facebook pages, where he also finds ways to promote other Red Wing businesses and opportunities.
“To me, it’s always been: give back to my community,” he said. “They’re the ones that support me, and I look at that as: any way that I can support them back, I am going to do it.”
Statz said he sees much the same attitude among businesses in Centerville, Lino Lakes, Lexington, and Circle Pines.
“There’s a lot of folks who, right now, have offered their help to one another in this time of (COVID-19),” said Statz, who is also the Centerville city administrator. “I think you’ll find when there’s a crisis, business owners really band together. It’s no longer a competition, you know, one pizza joint against another pizza joint. They band together and help each other out.”