Support Our Farming Community

The Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) has some great ideas to support our farming community during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those ideas is purchasing food from local farms.

New York State considers farms and farmers markets to be essential during this time. Local farms are still open, but you may have to be flexible to purchase their products. Find your favorite farms online or call to see if they are taking pre-orders for pick up or offering delivery services while we all practice social distancing. CLC has created a directory of Columbia County Farms to find available local farm products.

Another idea is to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. CSA memberships offset some of a farmer’s early operational costs and allow them to invest in their growing season, while you enjoy fresh food as it is ready for harvest. Click here to find a CSA near you.

Latest CDC Guidelines, About “Columbia Comeback”, EIDL Update & COVID19 Foundation Fund

Beach & Bartolo has teamed up with Columbia County Current to bring you updates on local happenings taking place in and around the county.

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce released the following letter with some great info on Columbia County’s reopening, plus information on some of the programs and funds for local businesses.

Following is the letter in it’s entirety:

Dear Valued Chamber Members:

We are stronger together as we await to re-open and are poised for Columbia County’s Comeback.  Please see the following guidelines as laid out by Governor Cuomo.  It is our job at the Columbia County Chamber to bring the most reliable and up to date information at this time.  We hope you find this information useful.

CDC Guidelines

  1. Based on CDC recommendations, regions must experience a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average. A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.

  2. Priority Industries for Re-opening: Businesses in each region will re-open in phases.

Phase One

  • Construction

  • Manufacturing and wholesale supply chain

  • Select retail using curbside pickup only

Phase Two

  • Professional services

  • Finance and insurance

  • Retail

  • Administrative support

  • Real estate and rental leasing

Phase Three

  • Restaurants and food service

  • Hotels and accommodations

Phase Four

  • Arts, entertainment and recreation

  • Education

3. Business Precautions: Each business and industry must have a plan to protect employees and consumers, make the physical work space safer and implement processes that lower risk of infection in the business.

  • Adjust workplace hours and shift design as necessary to reduce density in the workplace

  • Enact social distancing protocols

  • Restrict non-essential travel for employees

  • Require all employees and customers to wear masks if in frequent contact with others

  • Implement strict cleaning and sanitation standards

  • Enact a continuous health screening process for individuals to enter the workplace

  • Continue tracing, tracking and reporting of cases

  • Develop liability processes

4. Building Health Care Capacity: To maintain the phased re-opening plan, each region must have at least 30 percent total hospital beds and ICU beds available after elective surgeries resume. This is coupled with the new requirement that hospitals have at least 90 days of PPE stockpiled

5. Testing Regimen: Regions must implement a testing regimen that prioritizes symptomatic persons and individuals who came into contact with a symptomatic person, and conducts frequent tests of frontline and essential workers. Each region must have the capacity to conduct 30 diagnostic tests for every 1,000 residents per month. Regions must maintain an appropriate number of testing sites to accommodate its population and must fully advertise where and how people can get tested. The region must also use the collected data to track and trace the spread of the virus.

6. Tracing System: Regions must have a baseline of 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, and additional tracers based on the projected number of cases in the region. The region must also monitor the regional infection rate throughout the re-opening plan.

7.  Isolation Facilities: Regions must present plans to have rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate

8. Regional Coordination: Regions must coordinate the re-opening of schools, transportation systems, testing and tracing with other surrounding regions

9. Re-imagining Tele-Medicine

10. Re-imagining Tele-Education

11. Regional Control Rooms: Each region must monitor businesses and regional indicators during the phased re-opening, including hospital capacity, rate of infection and PPE burn rate.

12. Protect and Respect Essential Workers: Regions must continue to ensure protections are in place for essential workers.

Map of the 10 regions of the state and a list of counties within each region.

Capital Region: Albany, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Warren, Washington

Columbia County’s ability to re-open is tied to the above mentioned regional area and coordination.

Columbia Comeback

Chairman Matt Murell named a Columbia Comeback Taskforce to assist the County in developing a plan to re-open based on the Governor’s 12 point guidelines.  I as your Chamber President along with the President and CEO of the Columbia County Economic Development Corporation, F. Michael Tucker have been selected to Co-Chair the Committee of Business Leaders and Community stakeholders to draft the County’s plan.  Please remember we are still under strict shelter in place orders until May 15th. Please see press release below:

Columbia Comeback to Assist Return of Businesses

“I’m pleased to announce the formation of Columbia Comeback and looking forward to seeing the committee become a great resource for Columbia County businesses as we look ahead to the time when we can resume business activities,” said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell on Friday.

Columbia Comeback has been tasked by Chairman Murell to serve as a resource for county businesses to “navigate the new normal and develop initiatives to help business owners adapt and respond. Although we can’t be certain when the state will allow for business to be conducted, we can plan to be prepared with Columbia Comeback in a major support role.”

Named by Chairman Murell to serve as committee co-chairs are Jeff Hunt, President of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, and Columbia Economic Development Corporation President & CEO Michael Tucker.

Columbia Comeback committee members comprise county supervisors Robert Beaury (Germantown), Rob Lagonia (Austerlitz), and Tristya Houghtling (New Lebanon); County Clerk Holly Tanner, County Treasurer PJ Keeler, and City of Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson; and select county representatives Ann Cooper (Tourism), Bill Black (Emergency Management), and Jack Mabb (Department of Health Director).

From the business community:

Rita Birmingham, Mount Merino Manor; Bruce Bohnsack, gTel; Annie Brody, The Crandell Theatre; John Brusie, Ginsberg’s Foods; Jay Cahalan, Columbia Memorial Health; Tom Crowell, Chatham Brewing; Carlee Drummer, Columbia-Greene Community College; and Joe Gilbert, the Berry Farm.

Also, Derick LaTorre, MetzWood Insurance; Neil Howard, Taconic Hills Central School District; Bob Lucke, The Cascades; John Lee, Saturn Industries, Inc.; Marie Chambers, LookHudson; Elena Mosely, Operation Unite; and Robert Rasner, Elijah Slocum, Inc. and Inn at 34.                                                                                                                         
Chairman Murell said that in its initial phases, Columbia Comeback will look to guide the implementation of the Governor’s Guidelines for the Phased Re-Opening, facilitate communication to ensure the safe reopening of businesses, and provide resources, guidance, and assistance to businesses as they work to ramp up to full operation.

“Local health officials will be critical in this process as we look to them for their expertise on best practices,” added Murell. “We must continue to prioritize public health as we look to help restore our business community.”

Chairman Murell expects that increased testing and tracing, with business participation, will play a large role, and that businesses should prepare to operate at lower capacities as they keep employees and customers six feet apart. Businesses should plan to implement enhanced sanitation practices and utilize protective equipment such as masks and gloves, while ensuring employees do not go to work if ill, and should continue to encourage telework where possible.

“I think that understanding state regulations and how they will be implemented will be a big part of Columbia Comeback’s work in the early stages,” Chairman Murell said. “At the same time, what business sectors will be allowed to open and to what capacity will undoubtedly change on a rolling basis, based on reduced spread of the virus.”

There will be a major adjustment period to the new normal, Chairman Murell pointed out. In the early part of the reopening stage, business owners should consider how their business will change based on what they will need to do to minimize risk.

“Different industries will have very different circumstances – a true return to normal is unlikely until breakthrough treatments or a vaccine are widely available, followed by a recovery period to get back to full employment. Businesses may want to revisit their business model to evaluate what new revenue sources they may be able to create,” he said.

Chairman Murell envisions a number of potential Columbia Comeback activities, which include – but are not limited to — developing an online portal for businesses to stay up-to-date with key industry training, resource materials and other best practices in limiting community spread; providing guidance and resources to individual businesses to help them develop strategies to remain profitable; and providing business resources or hosting training sessions for future planning.

Columbia Comeback is currently setting the date of its first meeting. It will be open to the public via an online medium, as will all its future meetings.

EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) UPDATE

The EIDL portal will temporarily re-open this afternoon to allow previously ineligible agricultural businesses to apply for the EIDL Loan and Advance. Non-agriculture businesses MAY NOT apply, EXCEPT for any business that completed an EIDL application prior to March, 29th, received a confirmation # starting with “2”, but has not yet reapplied through the streamlined portal. These businesses may re-apply to complete their original application. Visit www.sba.gov/disaster to apply.

The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).

  • SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.

PPP Round 2 Update:

NY PPP Approvals: 164,271 – $17,607,925,411

TOTAL PPP Approvals: 2,211,791 – $175,743,247,908

Average Loan size: $79,000

Columbia County Chamber Foundation COVID 19 Fund

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce through the Columbia County Chamber Foundation has launched a COVID-19 Fund to support local businesses by purchasing gift cards and gift certificates from locally owned restaurants to be distributed to first responders, rescue squads and hospital front line employees.

Individuals and businesses are able to donate money for this purpose by writing a check payable to the Columbia County Chamber Foundation COVID 19 Fund or via PayPal Columbia County Chamber Foundation COVID 19 Fund.

Thank you for your membership.  We remain Columbia County Strong!

Sincerely,

Jeffrey C. Hunt, CCE
President and CEO
Columbia County Chamber of Commerce

 

Columbia County Current is dedicated to all things in, around, and occasionally beyond Columbia County, NY. For more local happenings, news, and events, follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Why We Live Here

There are many reasons why we decide to live where we do. For most of us, it’s about where we find the most suitable work opportunities. However, when that isn’t your primary reason to pick a locale, then what is. Many times school districts are high on many priority lists. Let’s look at other factors that are equally important. Take this one for example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently released data that shows New York’s crime rates for 2015. The Times Union Newspaper compiled a list of the safest New York cities, towns & villages. They used the FBI crime statistics from 2015 to determine the results. The FBI gets this data from the local law enforcement agencies. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Chatham Village came up as the number one safest community in the state. This is simply another reason why we all have seen the recent new spike in the number of newcomers to our village. Sales of Real Estate in and around the village has seen a surge of sales activity, as more and more folks discover our little secret. In addition, we are fortunate that now it appears we are becoming a destination, as more new and diversified retailers open on main street. We’re all glad to be here.

The Hudson Valleys’s Growing Allure

At last, the word seems to be getting around, because more and more visitors are being drawn to Columbia county and the entire Hudson Valley.  More and more new full-time residents as well.
The reasons for this may be a bit more than first meets the eye.  Certainly the about two hour proximity to the Metropolitan Area makes the ‘country’ surprisingly close.  Also, the surprisingly attractive prices here – and sheer value – of homes and sometimes large properties is immensely appealing.  What would be a million dollar + situation in Westchester County, on perhaps just a fraction of an acre, might cost half that amount here, and easily include ten or more acres.
I suspect, though, that another factor may be at work – the ever-increasingly demand for fresh produce and Organic Foods.
We continue to see small farms springing up, these serving up all manner of vegetables and cheeses to growing numbers of coop food outlets.  With only some 63,000 residents throughout the County, there’s surely a ton of room for more vegetables – and more nature-oriented people as well.
Why not give this not-so-radical idea some thought, as many already have. A whole new and simply wonderful lifestyle is truly right under your nose.