Berrien ReOpens sees growth in community partners, resources, site visitors

BENTON HARBOR — Last week, a coalition of Berrien County organizations representing healthcare, government, business, workforce and economic development joined forces to assist companies in a planned and thoughtful restart of the local economy. Together, they launched BerrienReOpens.org, a site containing the local guidance and resources business owners need to re-open their doors.

Since then, they have added more contributing partners, increased the number of resources on the site and have seen consistently high levels of online visitors as a result.

The core founders of Berrien ReOpens included the Berrien County Health Department, Berrien County Government, Cornerstone Alliance, Kinexus Group and the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber. With the addition of several other local business organizations, the number of contributing members has more than doubled in size in less than a week.

The additional partners include:

  • Buchanan Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Coloma-Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce
  • Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater Niles Chamber of Commerce
  • Baroda Area Business Association
  • New Buffalo Business Association

“Berrien ReOpens was created as a resource for every business in every corner of Berrien County,” said Arthur Havlicek, president and CEO of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber. “To help make our product stronger, and our unified message louder, we have assembled an unprecedented coalition of local organizations – each with open lines of communication to business owners in their respective communities.”

“The key to a successful restart of the local economy will be getting the resources we created into the hands of the right people,” added Dan Fette, Berrien County’s Community Development Director. “Who better to help ensure our success than the organizations having daily conversations with businesses across Berrien County?”

The coalition also touted the additional resources that have been added to the site since last Thursday. Among the new content is Spectrum Health’s recently released guidance to southwest Michigan businesses, information on contact tracing for employers, links to the Governor’s MI Safe Start Plan and additional options for locally made personal protection equipment. With additional collaborators, the partners believe the number of resources will only continue to grow.

“As we plan for and move into the phase following the Stay Home Stay Safe order, it remains critical that employers, employees, and consumers adhere to guidance about how to resume activities safely,” said Berrien County Health Department Health Officer Nicki Britten. “As a community, we must continue to take actions that slow the spread and protect our most vulnerable residents by being vigilant with health and safety practices in all settings.”

“Applying our subject-matter expertise in a coordinated fashion combined with the streamlined delivery of this information, allows us to move the needle for businesses in our community,” added Todd Gustafson, president and CEO of the Kinexus Group. “The simple fact is, southwest Michigan’s economy needs to get moving again and as community leaders we need to be paving the way and making it as easy as possible on them.”

The group has been encouraged by the number of visitors to the webpage, citing the traffic as an indication that their message is getting out to the public, officials said.