GSL Column: Dear Ross County, we say thank you

Note: This column first appeared in the May 2021 edition of Great Seal Living.

Dear Ross County,

Thank you for making a difference to all our local businesses in the past year. We’re now well past the one-year mark of COVID-19 related shutdowns in Ohio, and our entrepreneurs couldn’t have survived without you.

Recently, we had an opportunity to host Secretary of State Frank LaRose for a business roundtable. The Secretary of State not only helps people vote but also allows them to start businesses in Ohio. LaRose sought input from local businesses on their challenges during the COVID shutdown.

The Chamber was proud to tell the story of a community that joined our local businesses to help them navigate the storms of 2020. They enacted new safety standards, digital sales, curbside pickups, and direct funding to help them buy personal protective equipment and keep their doors open. Our community pulled together in a time of great need.

Among those gathered for the session was Bobbi Blanton, who co-owns Brick Haven Spa with Stephanie Truitt. When the focus turned to business during 2020, Blanton chimed in about the “real struggle” of the virus’s impact on her business.

But then she added, “But the community support has been wonderful.” She expanded upon that thought by saying her customers didn’t mind getting a massage while wearing a mask and kept coming in after the shutdown ended.

“We stayed busy,” she said. “People didn’t change their habits.”

Those customers, and so many others at many other businesses, didn’t change those habits because they knew the businesses they were walking into were worthy of their trust. They were the same businesses that they’d walked into during the 2019 holiday season, and knew them to be honest, hard-working people who would do the right thing.

Even though there may have been a few anxious moments during the pandemic’s early days, the businesses knew their customers would return. It’s this trust in each other that remains a hallmark of the pandemic’s short history.

But Ross County now is not the time to let up. As I write this, COVID cases are down – way down – and vaccinations are happening at a rapid rate. It’s easy to think we’re done with COVID.

COVID cases remain at dangerous levels. Any increases in cases could prompt public health decisions that will impact our businesses and jobs. We’re also tracking new variants of the virus, which may spread more quickly and put us at risk once again.

The pandemic and the economy are tied together, and because of that, COVID threatens our health and our livelihoods. We’ve come a long way to combat this crisis, and our goal remains clear – to reach community immunity as quickly and with as little additional harm as possible. It is exciting that we now have a few authorized vaccines that have been clinically tested and proven to be both safe and highly effective.

Along with continued safe practices, these vaccines are our best chance to end the pandemic once and for all. I encourage all of us to get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible. In the meantime, all of us need to continue to be patient as our medical professionals, laboratories, and government agencies work as quickly as possible to get shots into the arms of all Ohioans.

It remains imperative to seek vaccinations while you continue to follow the safety protocols that have been in place since early in the inception of COVID throughout Ohio.

So, thank you, Ross County. You set an excellent example for friends, family members, and co-workers by following safe practices to stop the pandemic’s spread. You continued to support our businesses. You were understanding and patient as our companies comply with the rules handed to them.

Let’s stay dedicated and keep our loved ones safe and our economy open.


A grateful business community

Mike Throne is president and CEO of the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce.