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Ascension Chamber of Commerce working to help businesses get back on their feet

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GONZALES - The Ascension Chamber of Commerce said it has been busy in recent weeks trying to help businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. That includes being an information and resource hub for many of the mom-and-pop businesses that have been crippled as a result of the severe economic downturn.

The chamber said it has been directing them to the federal assistance that is now available. While many businesses are furloughing and laying off employees, the chamber has been in touch with a number of businesses that are actually hiring right now. You can find that list at the bottom of this story.

Barker Dirmann is the CEO of the Ascension Chamber of Commerce. He said there are a number of plans in the works including trying to get retired CPAs to help businesses navigate things post-pandemic. He also said discussions are happening with parish leaders about possible tax abatements, but nothing has been finalized. 

"When you have businesses that are struggling, losing 50, 60, 70 percent of what they do on a daily basis, obviously that has ripple effects throughout the entire local economy," Dirmann said. 

Those working in the restaurant industry know that well. 

Steve Malony is the General Manager at Geisha Sushi in Praireiville. He said since the pandemic began, nearly half of the workers have been furloughed. 

"Normally for lunch on a Tuesday, I'd have four servers, a bartender, two hosts and a full kitchen," Malony said. "Today, I'm running with two guys back there and myself."

Malony said sales are down by nearly 50 percent as the restaurant has shifted to take-out only. 

"Fortunately, we have great owners, they've made a commitment to take care of as many employees as they can," Malony said. 

The Chamber of Commerce said those in the hospitality industry have been particularly hard hit. They agree that life as we know it won't return even once things begin to open back up. 

"Even when the stay-at-home order is terminated, it's not going to be flipping a switch and everything is going to be back to business prior to the pandemic," Dirmann said. "We are trying to work with local officials in the parish and develop a road map that businesses can use."

Here's the list of businesses currently hiring in Ascension Parish:

Alzheimer's Services

Ascension Credit Union

Ascension Oaks Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

Chick-fil-A Gonzales

Coy's Diesel

EME Company

Emergent Method

Express Emplyment Professionals

Francois Bend

Frazee Recruiting Consultants

Lofton Staffing & Security Services

Mike Anderson's - Gonzales

The Arc of East Ascension

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