From the Desk of David Black: Strategy for Reopening

Optimism. That’s the way I started a message to members eight weeks ago. I’m still optimistic, but I am admittedly getting impatient. I have a small poster framed on my office wall with two vultures sitting on a cactus, one saying to the other, “Patience my ass, I’m going to kill something!” Patience is not a personal strength for me in any version of a strengths assessment, nevertheless, we all must be patient.

Lately, we see counties throughout the state pleading and planning to move to the next phase toward reopening. Let’s be realistic, we have 2 crises. A health crisis and an economic crisis. Public policy leaders need to be addressing both. Here in Pennsylvania, we’ve seen a decent early response to the health crisis, ordering closures and keeping us safe, but we’ve also seen a lack of clarity, a lack of communication, a fuzzy red, yellow, green process, a weekly waiting game to see our region’s status, and sub-par response to the economic crisis (to be kind).

In the Governor’s Press conference Monday morning (May 11), he spoke about “politicians” risking public health. Remember, Governor, you are a politician as well. We are witness to a public policy debate. That happens in a democracy. I would have preferred the Governor referencing those opposing his public policy as “elected officials,” but sometimes in heated public policy debate, things get a little personal. An olive branch would have been a really nice move on his part.

So what are businesses to do? Here’s a suggestion: plan for reopening. We have some new resources on our website that are also included below to help your business plan to open and operate safely. Safety is the priority for your employees and their families, yourself and your family, and your customers/clients and their families. These resources provide guidance to help you operate safely, consistent with CDC guidelines.

You ask, my county says they are going to yellow regardless of what the Governor says, so I can open right? Not so fast. Understand what you’re thinking about here. There are risks involved.

  • • The Governor was direct at his press conference reasserting his ability as Governor to essentially tell businesses what they can and cannot do, and the ability, or lack thereof, for independent county actions contrary to his Orders. 

  • • Secondly, the Governor made it abundantly clear: he carries a big stick through the regulatory agencies of state government: the Liquor Control Board, Department of Labor & Industry, Department of Agriculture, Department of State, Insurance Department, and of course the Department of Revenue. 

  • • Finally, liability. Check with your insurance company before opening while under a Governor’s Order to stay closed. If something happens health-wise to an employee or customer or anything else happens, understand whether or not you will be covered. Remember, we live in a litigious society.

We live in challenging times. Both the health crisis and the economic crisis are about people, their health and their economic well-being. My heart goes out to those who are seeing their life’s work and livelihood evaporate before their eyes. They need to get their businesses open, need to generate revenue, they need to pay their employees and do it safely. We can strongly disagree, but we need to keep our eye on the future to rebuild our region, our state and our nation. 

David Black
President & CEO