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Coronavirus: Saskatoon small business directory launches for ‘heart of our community’

Saskatoon small business directory launches for ‘heart of our community’
WATCH: Support Saskatoon launched as a way to help out small businesses and non-profits during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The pursuit of a craft beer during the pandemic inspired a pair from Saskatoon’s tech industry to help local businesses affected by COVID-19.

Kyle Gunderson, a project manager at a local software firm and University of Saskatchewan graduate, said the conversation about finding beer led himself and Elden Dutton to create Support Saskatoon.

The online directory lists Saskatoon-specific businesses and non-profits.

READ MORE: University of Saskatchewan student launches COVID-19 tracker to graph coronavirus cases

“Every business in the world seems to be struggling [during the pandemic], but the mom and pop shops here are what build our community,” Gunderson said in an interview.
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“They’re our neighbours, they’re our friends. They’re the ones that are going to struggle the most.”

Less than 24 hours after the website’s launch Sunday, it accumulated more than 60 businesses. The site doesn’t have any ads or other method of making money for its co-founders.

Businesses hoping to join the list can simply email its co-founders.

“They’re the heart of our community, so anything we can do to support them, I’m happy to,” Gunderson said.

READ MORE: 4 new coronavirus cases in Saskatchewan, active cases drop to 64

He added when the pandemic ends, Support Saskatoon will remain online for people looking to shop local.

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Güd Eats Inc. was among the first businesses to join the listing service. The plant-based fast food restaurant opened its storefront location in 2017, but COVID-19 restrictions forced rapid and expansive changes to operations.

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The company joined more food delivery smartphone applications, spending money on new technology like tablets. Wages, utilities, rent and food costs have all weighed on the business.

Getting to join a free online listing of small businesses was “a beautiful thing,” said company president Chris Cole.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili returns to medical front lines to help with COVID 19

“I think it’s amazing that the community is evolving as well and trying to come up with solutions to help local business to get the word out,” Cole said.

Alex Fallon, president and CEO of the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA), said most small businesses he’s heard from have had to take some kind of action to stay afloat during the pandemic — whether through layoffs, hour reductions or other measures.

He’s pleased to hear about people innovating during a challenging time.

“When businesses see that support from the community, it gives them motivation to keep going,” Fallon said.

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SREDA’s recent grant program illustrated how many owners are seeking support. The authority offered up grants of up to $5,000 for businesses affected by COVID-19.

SREDA awarded 30 grants, but the demand was huge. Fallon said 550 applications came in.

“We wish we could’ve supported more programs,” Fallon said.

“It was amazing to see how many applications we got from all different sectors and different types of businesses.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe tweeted Tuesday that the province’s plan to “gradually and cautiously” start to re-open businesses will be released this week.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.