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Burlington County’s continuing commitment to help residentsand small businesses throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was the focusof this year’s Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce State of theCounty event.
Held virtually via Zoom, the webinar featured a County update addressfrom Burlington County Board Director Felicia Hopson, as well as a summary ofthe County’s small business assistance programs by Deputy Director Tom Pullion, liaison to the Department of EconomicDevelopment.
Hopson told the assembled business leaders on theteleconference that responding to the pandemic and its impacts remains theprimary focus of the county’s government.
“2020 has been full of challenges. The coronavirus pandemicnot only turned all our lives upside down, it forced us to rethink how our governmentdelivers services and how we can support our residents during this criticaltime when they need us the most,” Hopson said. “We’ve responded to what isclearly the greatest health crisis of the last century.
Among the County initiatives Hopson highlighted were theCounty’s COVID-19 testing program. More than 8,000 county residents and workershave been tested through the County program so far and it was just expanded toinclude home testing and a new fixed walk-up testing site on the campus of RowanCollege at Burlington County in Mount Laurel.
“Burlington County was one of the very first counties tolaunch a free testing program for our residents, medical staff and firstresponders. We delivered potentially life-saving protective equipment andsupplies to both our first responders and our long-term care facilities whoseresidents are so vulnerable to this dreaded disease,” Hopson said. “Justyesterday we expanded our COVID-19 testing program to offer at-home testing forany Burlington County resident, student or worker employed in the county. Bygoing online they’ll be able to register for a saliva test kit to be sent totheir home with instructions on how to take and return a saliva sample fortesting.”
The County has also distributed over a million pieces ofprotective equipment to first responders and long-term care facilities in thecounty and given out more than $100,000 in fresh produce and other groceries tofamilies in need.
To assist small businesses, the County has launched its newHealth Emergency Loan Program (HELP), which will extend up to $50,000 inzero-interest financing to any business operating in the County forbusiness-related purchases, expenses, renovations, or improvements.
“These loans can provide a lifeline for our county’s businessesand a springboard for their recovery. The more assistance we can provide oursmall businesses the better off we’ll all be,” Pullion said.
During the webinar, participants also received an updatefrom Burlington County Clerk Joanne Schwartz about the upcoming NovemberGeneral Election, which is being conducted primarily with Vote-by-Mail ballots.
More than 315,000 ballots were mailed out to voters duringthe last week, according to Schwartz, who urged voters to be on the lookout fortheir ballot and to take advantage of the different ways to return theircompleted ballots, including the U.S. Postal Service, secure drop boxes and byhand-delivering them to the Board of Elections Office in Mount Holly or totheir assigned polling location on Election Day.
“This is an election like no other,” Schwartz said.
A replay of the full program is available online at https://vimeo.com/465424083