Letter from the desk of Ida Schossow


As I sit here to write this letter today, I am thinking where do I even start? So much has happened since Aug. 29. We want to help the business community recover and return to normal as soon as possible. The one thing I want everyone to know is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The time references for us will now be before Harvey and after Harvey. One thing I know for sure: Orange County will come back stronger than we were before!

The Chamber office flooded with one and a half feet of water, covering most of what we owned. A contractor has cleaned out the building, and it is being dried out and prepared for the rebuild. In the meantime, the office has temporally relocated to First Financial Bank at 812 N. 16th St. We can still be contacted at (409) 883-3536.

We have been trying to see as many businesses as we can, and we will continue to get out to assess the others. Industry damage was fairly minimal. Their major concern was the employees who were affected by the storm. Industry has been helping its employees get back on their feet in numerous ways.

There were quite a few businesses that were severely affected. Many have reopened, but many more are still working on their buildings.

The Chamber, the city and county Economic Development Corporations held an information meeting for businesses owners and operators Thursday, Sept. 28, at Lamar State College – Orange. Representatives from FEMA, Workforce and SBA spoke and offered options that are available to businesses.

Gregg Steward, the Orange Workforce Center manager, talked about Hurricane Harvey Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Workers who have lost jobs and self-employed individuals who have been unable to work due to Hurricane Harvey may apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. For more information or to apply online, visit TWC Disaster Unemployment at ui.texasworkforce.org or call (877) 892-3896 or TTY (800) 735-2989.

As a result of Hurricane Harvey, Workforce Solutions has received funds to assist with the recovery efforts. These funds have been allocated specifically to assist employers with securing additional staff to assist with clean up, recovery and humanitarian efforts in Southeast Texas. For example, your office may be receiving additional calls as a result of the storm. This would be justification for utilizing these funds to hire additional staff for help to absorb the overflow of calls. If you are interested in the possibility of hiring disaster relief employees, contact Workforce Solutions.

Susheel Kumar, public information officer with U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), spoke about the loans available to business impacted as a result of Hurricane Harvey. If you are located in a declared disaster area, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the SBA.

Business Physical Disaster Loans are loans to businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private nonprofit organizations such as charities, churches, private universities, etc., are also eligible. The deadline to apply for a Physical Disaster Loans is Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are for working capital to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligation that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period. The deadline to apply for Economic Injury Loans is Friday, May 25, 2018. One example of a person who would qualify for this loan is a business that did not receive flood damage but was forced to be closed for an extended period of time.

City of West Orange 2017 Holiday In The Park will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, from 9 a.m. till dusk in the park next door to West Orange City Hall, 2700 Western Ave. in West Orange. This hometown community festival brings in people from around the area wanting to kick off the holiday season. The festival will have food booths, crafts booths, and children activities. This will be a good time to take a break and have some fun with your family. For information on renting booth or other information, contact city of West Orange at www.cityofwestorange.com or call (409) 883-3568.