Dalton-Whitfield County Joint Development Authority | 100 S. Hamilton St | Dalton, GA 30720 | P: 706-278-7373 | F: 706-226-8739 E: EDinfo@daltonchamber.org

Our Response to COVID-19

The Greater Dalton COVID-19 response

As the COVID crisis began to unfold, our community took a proactive approach to address the virus and the citizen's concerns.  From the government level, our city council and county commissioners held weekly and sometimes daily meetings to stress the importance of social distancing, sanitation, and acceptable business operations.  Meetings were held in locations that allowed for web broadcasts so that people would not feel obligated to come to a building for a public meeting.

As the state began discussing some type of shut down, our community closed some public parks and recreation department leagues and events were postponed.  Once the state began the shutdown of some businesses, our community followed in line with those mandates and worked to help everyone understand what was allowed under the new rules.

Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce and the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority took on the role of information coordination and became a sort of “call center” for companies that needed advice on how to determine if their business was “essential”, how they could find PPE for the employees, and how they could help our local hospital and state agencies during this crisis.  We were able to connect companies that had excess PPE to our local hospitals for donations and helped make B2B connections that created new manufacturing lines to make PPE for hospitals and businesses alike.  The resourcefulness and resiliency of our community were in full effect during this time.    

A COVID-19 task force was also created with twice a week conference calls.  This group had city and county leaders, school superintendents from 3 school systems, industry leaders, and leadership from the local hospital (Hamilton Medical Center and The Whitfield County office of the Georgia Department of Health.  These calls discussed trends, virus testing locations, and opportunities, and messaging to groups that seem to be impacted by COVID-19 the most.  This group still has conference calls on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and most recently helped coordinate an effort to film videos promoting mask, sanitation, social distancing, and virus-related quarantining and healthcare.  The videos (shot in English and Spanish with subtitles) are now being played in manufacturing facility breakrooms, lobbies, restaurants, and other establishments that have a video system available for their customers.   

As far as manufacturing goes, many of our businesses fell into the “essential” category as described by CISA guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.  During the shutdown, most of our manufacturers continued to operate with new and modified guidelines on cleaning and job spacing.  Some facilities closed periodically for line changes or cleaning due to a positive COVID test, but overall the manufacturing economy stayed strong. 

Our local small businesses like restaurants and stores struggled mightily, but some of them got creative and reinvented their business model for the time being.  Although we are not yet through the crisis, our virus numbers have dropped significantly and are trending in the right direction.  Most of these businesses are open again and finding their way to success.  A few are still waiting to return to the market, and a few will not return, but overall, our market seems to be strong and improving. 

Regarding the quality of life, some parks and venues have reopened.  Our annual summer concert series was postponed, but our downtown venue is now back open with new COVID guidelines and booking events for the fall.  Our hiking and biking trails have re-opened, but the restroom facilities and playgrounds are still closed.  We are trying to bring back our amenities when and if possible, in a way that promotes good health and safety in these new times.

Our marketing efforts never wavered, just adjusted to the COVID-19 realities and the amount of opportunities we are seeing now seems to grow daily. We are working under a new set of rules that seem to change every week, but we have developers and companies that are interested in our community. We believe that our community will bounce back from this virus stronger than ever and our community, from the government to our citizens, are ready for the task at hand.   


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