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Utah small businesses support each other, network virtually during COVID-19

Posted at 10:42 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 13:38:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah-- Utah businesses affected by COVID-19 are getting creative in how they support each other and network during this tough time.

Businesses of different backgrounds across the state are banding together, to help each other make connections during the pandemic.

In Salt Lake City, a corner space off of Highland Drive is all set and ready for customers. But right now, FIKA Infusion + Wellness sits empty.

"We felt that it was best to not open right now," said Jeff Stam, co-owner and co-founder.

He explained that their business introduces hydration, vitamins and minerals into a person's body via infusion through an IV.

Stam likened it to having a gym membership, and said it's something people can integrate into their wellness programs.

They hire registered nurses, and use medical equipment and supplies-- all of which right now, is in short supply.

That, plus the social distancing recommended by the CDC has prevented the business from opening up.

It's a unique business in a unique situation.

"We're really just kind of waiting like everybody else, to see when this is over, when we can get doors open," he said.

Waiting, just like many other small businesses, to see what develops next with COVID-19.

On Thursday afternoon, Stam hopped onto his laptop at the FIKA reception desk to join a Zoom meeting.

He was attending a virtual networking session with other business owners and business professionals just like him.

On the list: A business attorney, benefits broker, website developer, business adviser, Dixie State University professor, and others.

"We are all in that same boat," one of the business owners said. "We're all going through some whole different changes and transitions, we're struggling with things."

The virtual networking session was hosted by Cloud Connect, also a new concept just like FIKA.

"After seeing the impact COVID-19 pandemic began having on our local small business owner community we felt the need to do something about it," wrote co-creator Vanessa Ramirez.

She said with business owners having to close their doors and unable to attend in-person networking events, she and the two other creators knew they had to provide something to allow for relationship building and business exposure.

Cloud Connect is planning weekly virtual networking sessions with the goal that businesses will connect, and work together through COVID-19 and beyond.

During the event Stam attended Thursday, everyone talked about their businesses and some of the challenges.

"We're planning for it to not be good, if this continues to go for several weeks or months," one networker said, referring to COVID-19.

Jeff spoke about his business.

"We just have a space, a beautiful space that's like a spa that we built out, that we haven't been able to open yet," he explained.

As the group got to know each other, they talked about their own experiences and even shared light-hearted stories.

They described wanting to support one another. Some even asked each other for tips on surviving while working from home.

"I'm also having fun challenges, with homeschooling two teenagers that fight like cats and dogs," one person said. Stam laughed.

He may have been sitting by himself in his empty business, unsure of when he'd be able to open-- but he wasn't alone.

"We're kind of at a point where this type of interaction with other business owners and people that are affected by this pandemic... It's really good to hear feedback," Stam said. "And, kind of just know that everything is going to be okay, and we can come together."