An Unprecedented Year in the Center of the Universe
Delivering on our mission in the age of COVID-19
It has been an unpredictable trip around the sun for Center of the Universe businesses. Since its founding in 1982, the Fremont Chamber has worked to strengthen the business climate and improve the quality of life in our community and this year was no different. A new world calls for new actions and here is how we rocketed to the occasion in 2020 to support our local economy and neighborhood.
Center of the Universe Small Business Relief Fund
In August, we launched a small business relief fund to offset the financial burden of the pandemic. As of December 2020, we’ve raised $65,040 to support the small neighborhood businesses who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. With the help of our 16 generous donors, we were able to award 45 local businesses with $1500 grants. Learn more: fremont.com/center-of-the-universe-small-business-relief-fund.
Distributing COVID-19 Business Resources
At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we increased the frequency of our weekly newsletter and started publishing it twice-weekly to provide information regarding governmental updates, COVID-19 updates, funding resources and most importantly, to promote our members who were still operating.
Social Media Promotion
We have doubled our social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to share information regarding COVID-19 updates pertaining to businesses, and promotion of businesses. We promoted 150+ member & non-member businesses, community events and small business resources on our social media channels since the beginning of March’s shutdown. Follows, shares, likes and comments skyrocketed bringing more visibility to Fremont and Fremont businesses!
Leveraging Promotional Partnerships
As our neighborhood businesses continuously adjusted to an ever-changing landscape, it was more important than ever to connect them to additional forms of amplification. Through program initiatives like Saving Local King County, the Seattle Times “Open for Business” digital campaigns, the City of Seattle Office of Economic Development’s Shop Your Block campaign, et al, we were able to support our businesses in securing additional free advertising.
Reopening the Fremont Sunday Market
We were instrumental in helping the Fremont Sunday Market reopen—yielding an estimated $405,000 which went directly to supporting micro and small business vendors! As for health and safety, approximately 27,000 people visited the market with zero cases of COVID-19 traced to their shopping trips. Huge success!
Launched “Support Fremont Businesses Page” on Fremont.com
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been highlighting all our open businesses on a weekly and sometimes daily basis through our website and social media. We added a COVID-19 Business Resources page, as well as “Fremont is Open” page listing the businesses still operating. We have also adjusted our home page to feature more members.
Safe Start Kit Distribution
Supporting our neighborhood businesses reopening safely wouldn’t be possible without the proper tools. We partnered with King County to distribute free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to local businesses and food banks.
Free Virtual Programming
When social distancing took center-stage, our programming did not take a backseat. Our paid monthly breakfast programs transitioned to free online events. To connect our community to timely resources, we offered Coffee with Councilmember Strauss (to engage our Councilmember), Ask a Banker (to get financial resource and loan forgiveness questions answered), Navigating Diversity + Equity + Inclusion 101 (to assist businesses in evaluating & implementing DEI efforts), Shameless Self-Promotion (to support networking & connections among our businesses). Additionally, we hosted quarterly happy hour networking events.
Transforming Public Events
While we were unable to host the Fremont Fair or Oktoberfest in 2020, we provided alternative, socially distanced and self-guided events. Our Fremont-centric activities included an Oktoberfest Street Scramble, the Intoxicating Meander walking tour and the Holiday Edition Street Scramble. We were a funding partner for Seattle Restaurant Week which largely featured outdoor dining, takeout and delivery options.
Shop Fremont Holiday Campaign
In addition to promoting safe, outdoor community events, we engaged in a month-long holiday marketing campaign to amplify our local small retailers and raise awareness of our festive offerings. All month long our social media was dotted with individual retail business features and industry spotlights.
Despite catastrophic disruptions to ‘business as usual,’ Chamber membership continued to take off and we welcomed 20 new members in 2020! Also, when requested, we provided leniency for membership dues to ensure members were able to enjoy the full value of the Chamber and pay when able.
Reopening & Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies
We were on-hand to provide safe, in-person promotional events around Fremont. Whether our members were reopening at a new location, re-branding, or moving entirely—our board members were smiling and ready to champion the next phase of their business with promotional photo shoots, including the ribbon and the gigantic scissors. ✂️
Walking Guide Distribution to Downtown Seattle & Hysterical Markers
Annually, the Fremont Chamber publishes 50,000 copies of the Walking Guide to Fremont—a walking map and guide to all things ‘Center of the Universe.’ We instituted the ‘adopt-a-marker’ program to keep Hysterical Markers (our walking map receptacles around the neighborhood) stocked weekly. In addition to distributing locally, we continue to deliver our guide to participating hotels, motels and visitor centers in downtown Seattle.
Contact the Fremont Chamber
If you have suggestions for how the Fremont Chamber can better serve the Center of the Universe community—let us know!
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