The Long Road to Recovery

The Path to Recovery Has Begun – But Everyone Needs to Help

Recovery is often referred to by a metaphorical journey – whether it be overcoming personal health issues, mending a broken relationship or regaining your company’s footing after an economic meltdown.

Now, we are indeed on that critical expedition as Coral Gables – and the nation – begins the process of reopening.

For weeks now, everything has been about the Phases, a carefully crafted series of plans meticulously reviewed by leaders committed to a safe return to the aptly dubbed “New Normal.” And yet, through it all, we have grown increasingly weary as we’ve seen many of our favorite businesses shuttered, dear friends laid off, and social distancing that has led to greater isolation. 

Chambers – and our members – thrive on networking, engagement and coming together. We appreciate the opportunity to shake hands not only as a greeting, but also to seal the deal. We are creatures of connectivity and in Greater Miami that is how business is done. Period. We flourish when the business climate is personal and authentic.

As I walk the downtown streets of our Coral Gables, I am struck by the empty storefronts and darkened retail showrooms. Some will reopen, some have gone quiet and others will end up moving to smaller spaces. Economists will tell you this is the phenomenon of natural selection in the business world – and why so many burgeoning restaurateurs and business owners fail to keep their doors open. But this is not about new business or first-timers.

This is about the pain inflicted by a devastating pandemic that still grips so many of us, even as we work diligently to pull out of it. Offices are slow to reopen and return to full staffing, and that hurts downtown foot traffic, limiting the number of hungry diners and window shoppers. Many of us are beyond tired of cooking at home, ordering takeout, or maintaining a lifeline to the outside world via our food delivery driver. We need fresh air, crispy fries and food that has not traveled a great distance to be eaten and enjoyed.

The small businesses that call the Gables home know you and your order by name, they call you when your favorite item is back in stock, they wait curbside for you when you pull-up to pick-up, and they have always created two out of every three jobs in our city and country. Now, they are on a vital quest to survive. But this crusade begins and ends with you – their valued customers.

It is now time to return and get back to business. As we travel down that long and winding road, we will need patience, intestinal fortitude, fearlessness and an emotional intelligence like never before. Wear your mask, wash your hands, limit the audience to two, three or four, wave instead of hugging, and don’t be afraid to sit outside. This will be our Chamber’s mantra in each phase of the reopening, and our blueprint for recovery.

Mark Trowbridge is the president and CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce