The Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce is offering free deep-cleaning services and COVID-19 protective kits to local businesses that apply by Dec. 9.
The Chamber’s effort, which began Nov. 9, uses federal relief dollars provided by the city.
And the non-profit organization on Nov. 9 began distributing COVID-19 kits to local companies.
It’s all part of an effort to mitigate the virus’s spread in Brookhaven and to help local businesses bounce back from the pandemic’s crushing onslaught this year. Both the kits and the sanitization services are available to Chamber-affiliated and non-affiliated companies free of charge.
“We wanted to do what we can for the business community, not just the members of the Chamber, but for all the businesses in the city of Brookhaven,” Chamber president Alan Goodman said in an interview. “This has been a while coming and so many businesses have been suffering.
“We have to believe that by restoring the confidence of people to come into these different businesses with the sanitation, that it should help them,” he said.
Chamber employee Claudia Colichon is leading a team of members that has been going door to door for the past few weeks, telling business owners about the deep cleanings and signing them up for the services.
By Nov. 6, she said, at least 30 companies had taken her up on the offer.
Many, Colichon said, initially thought it was an offer too good to be true. Chamber officials contend no other Chamber of Commerce in the state has a similar program to buoy its businesses.
“At first people don’t believe it, because the city of Brookhaven in partnership with the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce are the ones who are basically pioneering this idea,” said Colichon, who formerly worked as City Hall’s bilingual communication specialist,. “I have not heard of another city doing this type of partnership.”
A wide array of about 300 firms, ranging from storefronts to corporate headquarters, are based in Brookhaven.
The Chamber has contracted with three accredited sanitization companies, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, that provide professional-grade cleanings, which can last up to three months. They are costly deep cleanses that take between two and five hours to perform and can range from $200 to a few thousand dollars, depending on the square-footage of the business.
Afterward, the Chamber provides each of the cleansed companies with a certificate that shows it has been disinfected and sanitized.
The initiative is a partnership between the city and the non-profit Chamber to help stabilize those companies against the instability that coronavirus bodes the business community.
Brookhaven secured $6.3 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act funding from DeKalb County in September. On Sept. 22, City Council members allotted the Chamber $100,000 of the coronavirus relief aid to bankroll COVID-19 kits for local businesses. A month later, city officials unanimously approved another $167,000 in CARES Act funding, enabling the Chamber to offer the free cleaning services.
The Brookhaven Rotary Club has pitched in by assembling the COVID kits, each of which include masks, signage, thermometers and hand sanitizers for business owners.
And officers from the Brookhaven Police Department have escorted Chamber members on their visits to local businesses.
“It’s just another step for them to get back to where they were,” Goodman said. “That’s why the city and the Chamber, and as far as I’m concerned the rotary and the police department, are trying to help businesses get this done. We can get back to some type normalcy.”
Colichon stressed that the kits and services are all completely free, and businesses are never asked to put forth any money.
“At no point does the establishment owner have to see the invoice or have to pay anything in advance. Nothing,” she said. “I want to make that very clear because there are scammers out there, so we never know if someone will try to take advantage of this.”
The only demand is time. The Chamber, according to its agreement with the city, must expend all of the CARES Act funding before Dec. 10 to keep the unused relief dollars from forfeiting back to DeKalb County. That means all interested businesses must sign up for the kits and cleanings by Dec. 9. To make an appointment, email Colichon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: The Chamber initially provided an incorrect contact email address that was included in a previous version of this story.