The Thurston County Chamber has developed a free downloadable toolkit to help businesses develop a reopening plan and safely emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Smart Restart Toolkit provides helpful information in manageable action plans and checklists to help businesses gradually reopen under Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase plan. Thurston is among counties cleared to enter Phase 2. The toolkit includes information from the state of Washington on specific requirements for reopening as well as resources for developing safe business practices and educating employees.

Similarly, the Association of Washington Business (AWB) has launched a free website, Rebound and Recovery, with its own toolkit to help guide businesses in reopening, plus a link to connect businesses to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies manufactured in Washington.

Thurston Chamber’s Smart Restart Toolkit

The Thurston Chamber’s toolkit is available as a downloadable PDF. The chamber’s Smart Restart website also contains interactive links to sector-specific information that is fluid in nature, plus links to the most up-to-date safety guidelines published by public health agencies. Businesses and community members can find additional COVID-19 resources at ThurstonStrong.org, a collective community effort on reopening the economy that provides relevant information to local businesses and impacted workers. Local governments and regional business organizations are leading the Thurston Strong effort.

The chamber’s toolkit will help businesses adjust to new cleaning and disinfecting protocols to protect employees and customers from the spread of the coronavirus, as well as implement physical distancing procedures and possibly other industry-specific measures.

David Schaffert, president and CEO, Thurston County Chamber. (Photo by Heather Harris, Elements Photography, courtesy of the Thurston County Chamber.)

David Schaffert, chamber president and CEO, said businesses are finding the toolkit helpful.

“We have had many positive responses from businesses both in this area and outside Thurston County,” Schaffert said via email.

In particular, medium to small businesses that don’t have a legal team or corporate headquarters supplying them with the necessary protocols have found the toolkit helpful for learning what’s needed to reopen their business and where to start, he said.

“We all know the reopening of our community and health of our economy rests on protecting the health and safety of our employees and customers,” Schaffert said. “The way to do this is to create a safe working environment and a safe environment for those visiting our businesses. The Smart Restart Toolkit, along with the resources found on the Thurston Chamber website, provide businesses with resources in reopening safely.”

The chamber’s online resources include guidelines from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, OSHA, the CDC, and state and local governments. Industry-specific resources also are updated regularly for businesses to stay up-to-date on fluid policy changes and additions.

AWB’s Rebound and Recovery Website

Meanwhile, AWB’s free website, Rebound and Recovery, contains two elements: PPE Connect and Business Toolkit.

PPE Connect
As more counties move to Phase 2 of the state’s Safe Start plan and as more parts of Washington’s economy come back to life, AWB recognized that employers would need help locating PPE like face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, said AWB President and CEO Kris Johnson in a news release.

Kris Johnson, president and CEO of the Association of Washington Business. (Photo courtesy AWB.)

“This is both an urgent need and, we expect, an ongoing need as we adjust to a ‘new normal,’” Johnson said. “So, we wanted to make it easy for employers to not only find the PPE they need, but also make it easy to support Washington manufacturers of these products. The PPE Connect portal is designed to do just that — connect Washington businesses with Washington manufacturers of PPE.”

About 40 PPE manufacturers were listed in the database at launch, but the number of manufacturers and types of products available is growing, Johnson said.

Business Toolkit
The Business Toolkit is geared toward small and medium-sized businesses and includes downloadable, customizable templates employers can use to create personalized messages for employees and customers. Elements of the toolkit include templates for creating a safe work plan; posters or handouts to help share information about the new COVID-19 requirements for one’s business; employee training videos; employee and visitor logs; floor stickers; social media posts; and letters, emails, and website copy.

“This is intended to be a very practical, useful tool for small businesses that aren’t sure where to go to find out what procedures and practices they need to implement, or how best to communicate the steps they have taken to their employees and customers,” Johnson said in the release.