From Food Pantries To Coronavirus Tests, Loudoun County Businesses Work To Support The Community And Beyond
An innovative tech hub, a bustling farming community, a data center powerhouse that shuttles more than 70% of the world’s internet traffic: Loudoun County can be described in many different ways. Now the county is hoping for a new moniker — resilient.
More than 6,400 Loudoun County businesses received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program in response to the coronavirus, which preserved 65,000 local jobs, according to the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development.
But that funding will only last for so long, and local businesses will still need to be creative to weather the conditions created by the pandemic. Luckily, Loudoun County businesses have spent the last four months showing tremendous resilience and creativity in the face of these unprecedented challenges, working to not only serve the local community but the country as a whole.
Looking Beyond Loudoun
Loudoun County businesses have spent the last two weeks working hard to resume their usual operations.
The county entered Phase 3 of the state’s “Forward Virginia” plan July 1. Nonessential businesses, restaurants and beverage services now no longer face caps to their capacity. Museums, zoos and other outdoor venues can open at 50% capacity, up to 1,000 people; gyms, fitness centers and swimming pools can open to 75% capacity; and social gatherings of up to 250 people are allowed.
While this is good news for local restaurants, gym and entertainment venues, some Loudoun businesses never slowed down during the pandemic. These firms have been doing their part to combat the virus and help Americans stay connected while working from home.
Loudoun-based clinical teams at Aperiomics and ResourcePath have been focusing their efforts on coronavirus testing and have been working with state and national officials to gain a better understanding of how the virus spreads.
Meanwhile, tech companies like Google and QTS have increased their investment in the county and are rapidly building data centers to address growing global data needs. Companies have been able to take advantage of Loudoun’s Fast-Track Commercial Incentive program, which helps data centers get off the ground faster through streamlined approval and construction processes.
Finding New Ways To Serve Customers
When the pandemic hit, Loudoun farmers who usually sold their crops to local restaurants and hotels suddenly found themselves without customers. In response, the county created the Loudoun Made, Loudoun Grown Marketplace, where farmers could sell directly to consumers from the safety of their homes, with contact-free pickup locations around the county.
Other businesses have also found creative ways to continue to serve their customers and keep their workers employed.
Typically, the Ashburn Ice House is only closed for three hours a day. When the coronavirus forced the ice rink to close for an extended period of time, the owners moved up remodeling projects previously scheduled for 2021, had workers sharpen 780 pairs of ice skates and started offering outdoor fitness classes. As a result, none of the rink’s 93 employees were laid off.
Meatheads Grocery Delivery Service not only continued to deliver groceries during the pandemic but also started thoroughly disinfecting each item before dropping them off in sanitized boxes at a customer’s front door.
Loudoun’s Catoctin Creek Distillery began manufacturing hand sanitizer at the beginning of the outbreak, giving it an opportunity to keep its staff employed and provide first responders with much-needed supplies.
Supporting The Community
Local businesses have also been donating whatever they can to help Loudoun residents who may be struggling during the pandemic.
Cuisine Solutions donated thousands of meals and sets of personal protective equipment to area hospital workers, while Bear Chase Brewing partnered with Sysco to open a free food pantry for restaurant employees who had been laid off or furloughed.
Ashburn's Cheers Sports pioneered the Community Tee Project, donating all the proceeds from its Loudoun Hunger Relief T-shirt to a local nonprofit that helps ensure Loudoun residents have access to fresh groceries.
Finally, Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm in Ashburn worked with local restaurant chain Founding Farmers on the Food It Forward meal program, which gave people the opportunity to purchase meals from local restaurants for individuals experiencing financial hardship, supporting both local businesses and residents in need.
While programs like Food It Forward may no longer be accepting donations, Clyde’s and other organizations have been encouraging Loudoun residents to continue to shop locally to keep the businesses they love afloat. Even though the county may be in the final phase of reopening, it will take the long-term continued support of the community to move the Loudoun economy forward.