I’m pretty sure none of us had this type of existence in mind when we chimed in the year 2020. We made resolutions, we set dates, we planned projects, we marked up calendars and rolled out the normal expectations of a year.

We, here at the Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce, were just like you, making plans, marking calendars and exploring projects. And just like you, we have had to readjust, reevaluate, and discover a ‘new’ normal. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen so many members and friends face some overwhelming challenges. We’ve also been witness to local businesses and organizations literally turn on a dime to invent a new way of doing business and stay connected with their customers. We’ve seen community members become vital resources for those in need and for supplying items in need. Showing that we truly are all in this together.

The Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce wants you to know that we are here for you, our businesses and our community members — albeit remotely. For all businesses, member or not, we have created informative newsletters and links on our Chamber website to the latest updates and resources from the MN Chamber of Commerce, MN Dept of Economic Development (DEED), State of MN and U.S. Small Business Association. If you are unsure of the programs available to you or your employees please visit our website for guidance, as the programs are updating and being added almost weekly.

If you follow our Facebook page you will notice that we have two re-occurring asks for our community members and businesses. Every Monday night our local schools, along with many other schools across Minnesota, are lighting their playing field lights to honor those students whose year was cut short because of this pandemic. #BeTheLightMN is also asking our community members to light their porch lights as an act of togetherness, shining a light in these darkened times.

We have also asked our Sleepy Eye businesses to display hearts in their store front windows, showing the appreciation for the customers that they are missing and again, showing that as a community we are all in this together. #aworldofhearts

Lastly, we are so impressed by all your continued efforts to shop local and support our businesses whenever possible. The Chamber continues to encourage sharing those Facebook or Instagram posts of how you are keeping in touch and celebrating, albeit remotely, with our Sleepy Eye businesses.

As far as what your local Chamber has been discussing in these past weeks, you won’t be surprised that it involves all our wonderful summer events. At this time, we have not made a final decision on our Golf Tourney, Party in the Park or Buttered Corn Days weekend (our largest fundraiser) however, because of the timing for registrations and sponsorship these decisions will be made in the coming weeks.

We are also taking our cues from both Gov. Walz and Explore MN, to see where their recommendations lead us. Obviously, as all good business practices would do, we will always plan for “worst case scenario” cancellation. One must weigh preparation time, organizational effort and cost, with the safety of patrons and vendors with the high likelihood of diminished attendance. We are not making these decisions lightly, as we understand the economic impact not only for us at the Chamber, but for all our customer service and retail businesses here in Sleepy Eye.

On a final note, please remember to “control the controllables.” We can’t control the government, the markets, the virus that is circulating, or how our loved ones and community members react to any of these three items. BUT we can control how we react, our perspective, attitude, and effort. Keep plugging away, keep perspective, and choose a healthy outlook. Not only will this allow us to have a positive impact on a population that desperately needs it right now, it will also boost your immune system!

Pessimism, stress, and social isolation are three quick ways to eliminate opportunities for success, so as you practice social distancing, make it physical, not social. Connect more with your housemates (don’t just occupy the same breathing space) or utilize the many video platforms to stay connected. We will not be going back to the former “normal” and so this is your time to create something new, probably better, more substantial and less rote or robotic. We are all in this together and we will come out of this stronger and more united as we move forward in a “new normal.”

Take care of yourselves, be kind to yourselves as there is no blueprint for how to do “this.” This is hard. This is frustrating. This is lonely. We are doing the very best we can and this will continue to take all of our patience and understanding as we continue to move forward. Keep moving forward…and #StaySafeMN