Local agencies and organizations have created a task force to help combat the effects of the COVID-19 virus.

The BRISTOLSTANDS2GETHER COVID-19 Business & Community Support Task Force will begin meeting weekly to brainstorm ideas, create resources, share information and unify their efforts as they address business, employer and community concerns, according to a news release from the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

Task force members include representatives from the Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee offices of economic development and community development/community relations; the Virginia Highlands Small Business Development Center (SBDC); Believe in Bristol; the Bristol Herald Courier; the United Way of Bristol TN/VA; the Bristol Business Resource Center and the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

On Thursday, the chamber announced the launch of https://www.bristolchamber.com/Bristol-stands-2gether.

The chamber said the task force will develop strong communication across boundaries to provide a unified voice for businesses, community organizations and residents. It will also coordinate a number of state and federal alerts and proposed programs for business support and funding.

The task force will also distill information on the first emergency small business loan program, through the Small Business Administration with local support through the Virginia SBDC.

In addition, it will collect data from area employers, community organizations and the local economy to share with state agencies and federal departments and authorities to assess impacts and support economic relief efforts, the release states.

“The task force members will work tirelessly on keeping up with fast and ever-changing developments, particularly at the federal and state level,” the release states. “Elected officials are keenly aware of the economic impacts of the coronavirus and the measures implemented to stop its spread. The hope is that the actions taken at the federal, state and local levels will result in a faster end to the virus’ impact and a return to a normal business climate.”

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