Introducing the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force

Local leaders once again join forces to address what COVID-19 recovery looks like, county-wide.  In light of the impact that a national pandemic has had on Jackson County, the group will determine steps to take as the county looks to move the local economy forward.

COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, and our local leaders understand that. The ground breaking group first met in July, making an initial decision to initiate a joint marketing campaign built around the sentiment; Mask up Jackson Co., in partnership with Highlands Medical Center.

The apt decision was well timed, pairing well with Governor Ivey’s Mask up Mandate that started at 5PM on 7/16/20 and is currently set to expire 8/31/20.

The Chamber sees daily the struggles our business and industry are experiencing as a result of this pandemic,” said Rick Roden, President and CEO at the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce. “It appears COVID-19 will be around for a while, so we have to come up with ways to open up our economy safely. This Task Force can help with that!

Tanner Harbin of Harbin Automotive was chosen to chair the task force. Harbin previously served on the Alabama Small Business Commission, which provided recommendations to public officials regarding COVID-related issues. “In these uncertain and tumultuous times, we hope to help guide the people and businesses in Jackson County to a clear path of recovery.”

Task Force Chairman, Tanner Harbin of Harbin Automotive

Other task force members include:

John Anderson, Highlands Medical Center

Shelia Shepard, Economic Development Authority

Robin Shelton, Mayor of Scottsboro

Rickey Steele, Mayor of Stevenson

Tim Guffey, Jackson County Commission

Jim Grigg, former Jackson Co. Coroner

Chuck Phillips, Jackson County Sheriff

Ron Latimer, Scottsboro Police Chief

Dr. Jay Reyes, Scottsboro School Superintendent

Kevin Dukes, Jackson Co. School Superintendent

David Barclay, 50 Taters

Steve Beaird, FNB Bank

Terry Couch, Johns Manville

Lara Pitts, Scottsboro Library

Jackie Graham, Lions Club

Dylan Smith, Chamber of Commerce Chairman

Rick Roden, Chamber of Commerce President

Paul Smith, Jackson Co. Emergency Management Authority

Katie Britt – Business Council of Alabama – President

Jackson County Masks Up!

When we reached out to our local members to ask why they masked up, we received an overwhelming response. In every scenario, folks made the decision to mask up not for themselves, but in the protection of those they love & serve.

We are a community, and we are proud to support that a healthier Jackson County is a Stronger Jackson County!
 
Thanks to our partners who shared who they mask up for!

Jason Hepler – Police Chief at

Hollywood Police Department
Daniel Arcila – Sunbelt Rentals

Tanner Harbin –

Harbin Automotive

James Allen –

Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama (Ben Sanford)

Rhonda Osborn –

Shepherd’s Cove Hospice

Polly Robb –

St Luke’s Episcopal Church – Scottsboro
Angie Murphy – Northeast Alabama Health Services, Inc.
mask up jackson county
mask up jackson county
mask up jackson county

Committee Member's Speak Up!

 

Committee Member & 50 Taters Owner David Barclay shares first-hand how COVID-19 has effected the local restaurant & tourism industry. Considered a top area attraction, his restaurant typically serves thousands of visitors a week, giving Mr. Barclay a bird’s eye view on how to best approach a concept that is widely foreign to the business community.

How has the pandemic effected 50 Taters?

50 Taters, just like other local restaurants who rely on dine-in customers, have been greatly effected! Buffet & catering businesses have been devastated & only time will tell how those business models will rebound.  Fast food locations who were initially situated to accommodate drive thru service, delivery, & carry out have fared well & some have even increased revenue. By in large, all restaurants are not in the same boat but we all face the need to adapt to social distancing mandates.

Where 50 Taters has mostly been affected, concerns our staff. During the shutdown unemployment benefits were greater than a working wage in this industry, making it difficult to retain employees; even while operating at a 50% capacity.

In March, when Governor Ivey closed dine-in restaurants, we employed 33. In May, when we were allowed to reopen at 50% seating capacity, 21 employees returned. With less people looking to return to full-time employment, as of 7-29-20 we are still only able to operate with 21 employees. For that reason, we have had to adjust our business strategy, cutting business hours from 7 days to 5 & hours open from 55 hours to 36.

The current situation has resulted in a total revenue lost approaching $350K. Every week we operate at this capacity brings an estimated additional $12K in lost revenue. What does that mean to the local economy? The loss in tax revenue alone is detrimental, never mind the loss of traffic our community is used to; causing a trickle-down effect across the county.

How do you think the restaurant business has changed?

Only time will tell.  Early signs are showing that less seating will be the change that 50 taters will be making. While future plans for seating at 50 Taters will see our dine in seating decrease from 159 to 130 when we are allowed to go back to 100%. Extra staff will also be required. Self-serve & buffet restaurants will have the biggest challenges, as we have already seen in our own community, Western Sizzlin has had to completely reinvent itself.

What do you anticipate the future to look like?

To adjust to the lack of revenue, we will see higher prices, longer waits for tables to be available, and less choices for dine in restaurants could be a worst-case scenario. Fast food & chain restaurants should rebound quickly. However, I believe the locally grown restaurants will become harder to find, and we have the potential to see quite a few empty buildings. The good news is, there will be opportunity! My question would be, will talented people take the risk in the near future to build a restaurant or will the big chains come in & swallow up all the opportunity? How can we better ensure that’s the case?

What advice do you have for the industry?

Be careful buying all the fear that so many are selling, Jackson county has done a great job with this virus & understand as of 8-5-20 there was only case in Jackson county at Highland’s Medical Center, and 3 deaths according to CDC in this county.  As a business owner in this county, be proud, let people know we are doing all the right things to keep them safe and our record confirms that.

This video was made possible in partnership with Highlands Medical Center |  and The COVID-19 Recover Task Froce.