Arcadia Chamber of Commerce Shows How to Support Local Businesses Rebuilding from Covid-19 Shutdown

Don Simkovich
The Arcadia Chamber took creative action to support members;Photo by Arcadia Chamber

The Arcadia Chamber prides itself on being a local business support structure and the place to network and market for overall business growth.

But what happens when a crisis hits?

In 2020, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders forced business owners and members to cut expenses to simply remain in business, and Chamber membership was often one of the first areas cut. Online marketing and networking went virtual for many during the pandemic--while other business owners became invisible.

The Challenge

CEO Karen Mac Nair and Director of Operations Carrie Lynn Barker noticed the struggles.

“Some businesses canceled memberships, while others shut down operations, and some even moved out of state,” Mac Nair told me during an interview.
Karen Mac Nair brought the community together;Photo by Arcadia Chamber and Christine Zito

Necessity became the mother of invention.

The Arcadia Chamber created the Arcadia Strong campaign featuring:

  • a video to tell the story
  • a website selling Arcadia Strong merchandise and inviting visitors to donate money towards grants to cover chamber membership fees for up to a year

The Result

Success has come in rewarding ways.

More than $7,000 was raised, more than 100 Arcadia area businesses were supported, and in June 2022 the video was announced as a winner for the 43rd Annual Telly Awards, a prestigious award showcasing the best of television and video content across all screens.

The video was produced in collaboration with Christine Zito, a member of the Arcadia Chamber and owner of Pure Media Marketing.

The video beat out top-tier brands to snag a Silver Telly in the category of Promotional Video-Cause Marketing.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by people in my industry and by the Tellys,” Zito stated. “I love the Arcadia Chamber and the dream Karen has for it, so winning this award with the Chamber was important. I have deep respect for Karen and Carrie and their creative insight.”
Arcadia Strong video was recognized for its storytelling43rd Annual Telly Awards Silver

Zito, with more than 20 years of award-winning production experience in television, radio, and video, created the opening audio montage for Arcadia Strong, showing business owners describing their needs in unknown times. This led to visuals of Karen MacNair, wearing a shirt labeled ‘Arcadia Strong,’ speaking from her front porch to introduce the campaign.

Visuals capturing the concerns of local businesses showed the uncertainty in May 2020.

Tyler Kikuski, General Manager of the Derby Restaurant remarked that the closures were a first after 98 years in the community; Aleah Holakoui, owner of Margit Holakoui Florist, described how corporate events shut down after Valentine's Day; and Kevin Mejia, owner of 1A Fitness, said his gym was broken into after the shutdown orders. Arcadia City Council member April Verlato echoed the concerns that many companies suddenly lost their revenue.

Viewers were introduced to Arcadia to purchase merchandise and make donations.

The Next Phase

The campaign continues raising funds to assist Chamber members who still feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to this day, as the Arcadia Chamber knows the effects on local businesses will take months, if not years, to heal.

Now, more than two years later, Mac Nair says the Chamber, like most of its members, is rebuilding.

With the added excitement of winning the Silver Telly Award for Cause Marketing, the Chamber is planning another promotional video for a new phase of Arcadia Strong, to strengthen the local economy and continue to assist new and renewing Chamber members. The goal is to raise another $5,000 in support of local businesses.

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I interview entrepreneurs, and dig into the news around Southern California, giving a voice to business owners, artists and more. I also co-write the thriller novel series Tom Stone Detective Stories.

Pasadena, CA

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