BUSINESS & ECONOMIC DEV.
‘You do not need to do it alone’:
Chamber Chair on pandemic-era support for businesses
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By Aleks Gilbert
When John Loud, founder of LOUD Security Systems,
took over the one-year, rotating chairmanship of the Cobb
Chamber of Commerce at the beginning of 2020, he laid out
three focus areas: small business, workforce development
and Dobbins Air Reserve Base, which shares a campus with
A year and a half later, Loud is still serving as chair, the
chamber’s board having decided that unusual times — the
pandemic — called for unusual measures. What hasn’t
changed is Loud’s stated focus. Well, one thing did change.
“The thing that I added this year was transportation and
mobility. And obviously, as you can imagine, during a pandemic,
there was no transportation, no mobility issues, other
than you were not mobile,” Loud joked.
As Loud puts it, pre-pandemic Cobb had a “thriving, incredibly
robust economic engine, where everything was just firing on
just about all cylinders” and businesses’ biggest challenge was
simply finding enough workers to fill open positions.
Several months later, they were fighting for their lives, but
federal money in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program
and a county-level version of the PPP kept many afloat.
“It’s quite remarkable and resilient to see the amount of
businesses that actually have made it through,” Loud said.
“(The chamber) talked a lot about, if you have challenges
and obstacles that you’re facing in your business, of all
different magnitudes, if you don’t mind reaching out to the
chamber, we have relationships, opportunities and professionals
to partner you with to be able to help you navigate
this, and you do not need to do it alone.”
At the beginning of his chairmanship, Loud pushed to
create a lower-cost membership tier for businesses with two
employees or fewer.
When the pandemic hit, the chamber organized a series of
virtual, free events to help businesses large and small — but
especially small — navigate the difficult environment.
“We did about 20 different webinars that covered all of the
different factors of the pandemic ... from, ‘how do I protect
my employees?’ (to) ‘how do I protect my customers?’” he
said. “When they called us ... we were able to kind of, you
know, help them through the labor commission office or
help them through getting a banking relationship that they
wish they had had, but they didn’t.”
Regarding workforce development, Loud called the
announcement of the county’s forthcoming VECTR center
“the epitome of 2020 for me.”
John Loud, chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, prepares
to introduce champion boxer Evander Holyfield during the chamber’s
Marquee Monday event on July 12, 2021.