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As this Pandemic Holds on and Another One Threatens, Let’s Talk about the New “Normal” for Business

“I say, ‘do it,’” Julie Slomski, Covid-19 Response Leader at Logistics Plus, replied when Jim Berlin, CEO of Logistics Plus, asked if he should charter a plane to China to acquire much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for local medical responders.

Just two weeks into the statewide shutdown Governor Wolf had ordered to stop the spread of Corona virus 19 (Covid-19), medical teams across the country were already scrambling to acquire PPEs, sanitizer, and other products vital to patient, medical worker, and public safety. In a brain-storming session with his Erie office staff, Berlin hatched the idea to address an area of need by traveling to an area with supplies.

It was risky. Expenses would be in the millions, safety precautions for travelers would increase wait times and require exhaustive planning, and in the midst of massive business shutdowns, there were no guarantees that the company would recoup or even survive such a spontaneous expenditure. Not to mention, of course, the fact that the source of these supplies would be China, making this plan a predictably controversial move. Despite all the obvious challenges and uncertainties, in that moment, in seclusion like most of the world, conversing via video technology, Berlin and his team decided to take the leap.

Working with customs, they brought back such things as FDA-approved disposable surgical masks and gloves, eventually even securing the in-demand KN95 masks. Logistics Plus received some heat regarding the country of origin, but they continued their pursuit of product to meet local demand, donating much of their attained supplies along the way.

As the economy began reopening in stages, schools started taking steps to bring back students, and Erie residents pushed for some sort of normalcy again, however, product demand changed. Now, retail establishments and restaurants require masks, gloves, and partitions to keep employees, as well as customers, safe during visits. Schools and offices need sneeze guards for desks and schools need gel sanitizer in high volumes. Backpack sanitizer sprayers have even entered the Covid-19 fighting realm of “normal.”

One of the best things about living in a small, tight-knit community like Erie is the fact that there is always someone who will step up to help a neighbor, such as in late March, when local distillers put spirit production on hold to make sanitizer for hospitals, and in April, when Port Erie Plastics, Munot Plastics, and Bliley Technologies partnered with Penn State Behrend to make plastic face masks, as we posted in our News section.

With Covid-19 showing no signs of easing its threat to public health, manufacturing and/or acquiring PPEs has become our new way of life. Some respond by chartering a plane, others by altering their small-town brews to bottle an altogether different liquid capable of slowing or stopping the spread of a pandemic.

Logistics Plus is one of many businesses that has jumped into the Covid-19 fight as we continue to learn about this virus and adapt to life in a pandemic. Logistics Plus is in the business of getting and moving things, making their plane-chartering decision a smart, albeit risky, move. In these times, each business must make choices that fit their goals and business perspectives while moving forward and possibly helping a fellow manufacturer, distributor, or service provider along the way.

As we hear about local efforts to adapt and thrive despite Covid-19 challenges, we will post them here, because despite our distance, we are better together. Stay safe out there.

As we hear about local efforts to adapt and thrive despite Covid-19 challenges, we will post them here, because despite our distance, we are better together. Stay safe out there.

PPEs can be purchased through Logistic Plus here.

Message from the CEO


Message from the CEO:

Today, we face a challenge to the sustainability of our economic region unlike any previous downturn or recession. With the arrival of Covid-19, many of our businesses turned off lights and closed doors not just for the first time, but without any idea of when they may allow workers – or customers – to enter again.

Without swift and decisive action, such a blow to our community’s revenue flow – our lifeblood, so to speak – could deeply cripple the region indefinitely. As the leader of your Redevelopment Authority, I believe it is our responsibility to counter this threat by making resources available quickly and without burden.

To that end, we have established a $1 Million Dollar Small Business Emergency Loan Fund. This fund, like the challenges we face today, is unprecedented.

The emergency capital these loans provide will serve as a bridge until operations resume or businesses can obtain additional resources from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s PIDA loan program or the federal government’s SBA Disaster Loan Program.

Details of our Emergency Loan Fund include the following: 

  • Loans up to $50,000
  • Small businesses with more than 25 employees
  • Zero percent interest for the life of the loan
  • 90-day deferral before the first payment is due
  • Simplified application and fast-track approval
  • Checks within 7 days
  • One-time processing and filing fee of $350

To apply or receive further information, please contact us at 814.480.0337, Ext. 8, or visit ECRDA.net

We hope that you, your employees, and families stay safe during these times.

Working together, I believe we will come out of this stronger on the other side.

Best in health,

Tina Mengine and the Erie County Redevelopment team