Whether you consider Medicine Hat a small town or a large urban metropolis will depend on where you grew up. It’s a community just shy of 70,000. Medicine Hat is large enough to have several amenities a person enjoys in a larger urban centre and small enough you can get from one end of the city to the other in typically 20 minutes. It’s a city where people come together in times of need and most businesses try their best to support their local business community.
How did Medicine Hat respond when COVID-19 struck?
At Tag Marketing, we saw the business community come together and support local businesses the same way they always had. In March, our team started a Small Business Support group on Facebook called YXH Business Support. We started the group because we knew there would be a need for small business owners in Medicine Hat to have a location where they could connect and engage with others. Individuals found themselves looking for supports. The group’s intent to help inform, educate and support.
The YXH Business Support admin group scheduled speakers every morning at 7:30 a.m. to discuss various topics related to small business. Topics included HR challenges, Accounting practices, Government support programs, Communication strategies and Chamber updates. Topics were discussed by a group of amazing volunteers (#YXHheros) that included individuals from various organizations including Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce, Being Human Services, Medicine Hat College and APEX Alberta. The group grew because Hatters are giving, supportive and resilient and showcased this in the group.
One of our favourite stories about this group is related to Lisa Kowalchuk, the Executive Director of the Chamber in Medicine Hat. Pre-COVID, Lisa was not on Facebook and had zero desire to be. Lisa was very happy providing updates through the Chamber’s newsletters, on-air through the local radio stations and often through televised interviews. When COVID struck, Lisa saw the local business community impacted in a way that was almost imaginable. Lisa was gently nudged by our team to be on a Facebook Live. We knew she could provide a steady voice of reason and support, exactly what the local business owners needed. Lisa did her first Facebook live on March 20th. She saw such a positive response in how engaged the business community was with the Live that she continued on the YXH Business Support group every Friday, sharing what the Chamber information relevant to the business community. And guess what? She actually loves doing the FB Lives now – that is something she would have never guessed pre-COVID.
The group is now managed by APEX Alberta as we felt that the mandate for their organization and the group’s audience aligned. We were very happy to be a part of this group at the start of it all and are pleased to see it continue to grow and align with the mandate we started with.
We started this post saying business as usual in Medicine Hat. What do we mean by that?
During COVID business has not been as usual, but yet business has operated in ways we would anticipate from our local business community. We see business owners working hard to showcase the Support Local initiative through initiatives like YXH Box. We see businesses like Grit City Distillery pivot their operation and take on the task of producing hand sanitizer to help the demand for PPE. We watch small businesses like MadHatters Coffee Roastery create their own e-commerce website so they can get their products in customers’ hands in a safe and convenient manner. We watch non-profit leaders work tirelessly to support the increase in clientele needing their support. We see Medicine Hat step up as we do, supporting non-profits and local businesses as often as they can.