HIBBING — Businesses that have been hard at work preparing their workplaces for COVID-19 are being recognized for their efforts. The “Open for Business Pledge” is a new program that helps customers and Iron Range communities identify businesses who are taking extra precautions around COVID-19. The Open for Business Pledge is designed to help customers feel more comfortable as they shop and do other business on the Iron Range because they know that participating businesses are committed to best practices for COVID-19.
“You can recognize participating businesses by their Open for Business window cling,” according to Hibbing Area Chamber President Vicki Hagberg. “There are several businesses who have signed onto the pledge as early adopters, and we hope to see businesses throughout the Iron Range sign onto the pledge. It’s a great opportunity for businesses to show our residents and visitors that we are Open for Business, safely.”
Companies have been making changes to the way they do business to make sure that customers have a safe and comfortable experience. One of the early adopters of the Open for Business Pledge is Vince Nelson, owner of Active Standard Drafting & Design in Hibbing.
“Due to the ongoing pandemic, we have changed our regular routines in a number of ways to ensure the safety and health of our clients,” said Nelson. “We have been cleaning and sanitizing our office after every visit, wearing masks and practicing social distancing at every site visit, and we’ve started actively promoting our use of online video chat and phone conferences for our consultations. Our clients have generally been very receptive to these changes and thankful that we are looking out for them.”
The Open for Business Pledge reflects the work businesses across all sectors are doing to comply with recommendations and requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota Department of Health, OSHA, and other state and federal organizations. Many businesses have created COVID-19 Preparedness Plans that outline how they will protect workers and customers.
“We know not every business is required by the state to have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, but many have already gone above the requirements to help protect workers and customers,” said Hagberg. “The Open for Business signs are a signal to customers that businesses are taking their safety and comfort seriously.”
Some businesses are taking their time in fully reopening to make sure they are fully prepared to operate safely. Moxie, a boutique in downtown Hibbing, is one of those stores taking things step-by-step so they can plan to have safe operations for customers and employees.
Suzanne Rian, owner of Moxie, said “I’ll be slowly starting in-store appointment shopping beginning Wednesday, May 27, with CDC best practices in place. I’m encouraging customers to continue to utilize curbside and online options when possible, and I want to be able to give proper attention to those customers who choose to safely shop inside. I am committed to putting the health of our community first and I have already received wonderful feedback from customers thanking me for being so prepared.”
Businesses who sign onto the Open for Business pledge commit to following best practices around social distancing and use of personal protective equipment, increased cleaning and disinfecting, training for staff, working only when healthy, and drop-off and delivery of goods when possible. These five best practices align with state guidelines on what businesses should be considering when they develop their own COVID-19 Preparedness Plans.
In addition to these five areas of best practices, the Open for Business Pledge requires participating businesses to welcome all patrons. Beth Pierce, executive director of the Iron Range Tourism Bureau, noted the importance of providing a welcoming environment for both locals and visitors.
“The summer travel season will be different than what we’re used to, but it’s important that we welcome everyone to our area, whether they are old friends, family members, traveling for work, or are our Minnesota neighbors exploring the wonderful opportunities on the Mesabi to shop, dine and recreate.” Pierce added, “Many area businesses rely on visitors to support their bottom line, and the Open for Business program allows travelers to see at a glance which businesses are taking steps to safely welcome them back.”
Businesses that are interested in signing up for the Open for Business Pledge should visit www.ironrange.org/open, where they can fill out a simple form to sign onto the pledge. Customers and community members can also view a list of participating businesses that have signed onto the pledge on the website, which will be updated as more businesses learn about the pledge and sign on. Businesses of all types on the Iron Range are encouraged to sign onto the Open for Business Pledge. Businesses located in Iron Range Tourism Bureau’s service area are eligible to receive a free window cling to display at their business.
The Open for Business Pledge was developed by the Iron Range Tourism Bureau and Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce with support from the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Chisholm Chamber of Commerce, and Laurentian Chamber of Commerce.
The Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce serves over 300 chamber member businesses on the Iron Range and throughout northeastern Minnesota with a mission to create, protect and enhance a healthy business environment for the benefit of its members and the entire community. To learn more, visit www.hibbing.org or follow us on Facebook at @HibbingAreaChamber.
The Iron Range Tourism Bureau is a nonprofit destination marketing organization serving the communities of Aurora, Biwabik, Buhl, Chisholm, Embarrass, Eveleth, Gilbert, Hibbing, Hoyt Lakes, Mt. Iron, and Virginia. To learn more, visit www.ironrange.org.