By Todd Shimkus
I first heard the phrase “building a plane while flying it” on April 2, a teleconference was organized for local banking leaders to discuss the roll out of the PPP program.
The next day, local banks and their employees would begin helping thousands of local businesses to get these loans. These loans, if used correctly, would be forgiven. But as this teleconference began, the SBA had not given the banks a set of rules to follow or an application to use.
To describe the situation, Steve Bulger, regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Atlantic Region, said, “Look everyone. We’re trying to build a plane while flying it.”
He noted that this meant we all needed to do the best we could with the information we had. Everyone on the call wanted to get this money into the hands of local businesses.
We all agreed this was vital. They’d have an application. They’d have rules. If they needed to be changed, the SBA would change them as we went forward. Over time, in fact, they did. The next round of PPP loans will have different rules than this first round. It’s been improved over time.
In 2020, you could have used this quote for virtually everything. Every employer, nonprofit, and public agency had to build their own plane while flying it. I think every family and every individual was doing the same. Our way of life changed.
Our way of conducting business changed. We’re using telemedicine more than ever before. Our children are being educated differently. We’re doing take-out more than ever before. We celebrated birthdays and holidays different this year. We’re wearing masks and social distancing. What we can do or should do is changing all the time.
Now in 2021, we’re still flying the plane while building it as vaccines are distributed. If we are to get back to some semblance of normal, we need to get a substantial percentage of our population to get vaccinated.
We’re seeing supply chain issues already. We’re seeing the rules and guidance change every day. The virus is adapting too. So we have to focus on what we can control. When you can get vaccinated please do so. If you can volunteer to help with mass vaccination events when they begin, please volunteer now. When you get the call, get the shot. Don’t delay. We’re all counting on each other to stop the spread of this virus by getting vaccinated whenever and wherever that is.
Kudos to everyone who helped to save our local businesses over the holiday season. From what we’ve heard, our community responded positively.
The way many of you purchased goods and services shifted as you sought to help. The local businesses you love, however, still need your help. We need to continue to shop local, to dine out or take out from local restaurants, to hire local vendors and contractors, and to donate to local nonprofits. Every discretionary penny you spend. Please invest it in our local community.
Local. Local. Local. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated. Wear a mask. Wear a mask. Wear a mask.
The plane is still flying. We’re still building it. These three simple actions can make a huge difference. We need everyone to help. Because if we’ve learned one thing from 2020 it is that we are Stronger Together.
By Todd Shimkus