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“The reality of this new normal of COVID-19 is that each day is different and the need to respond to change and disruption is a bit of our new normal right now,” he said. “This report really looks at the question of how do we enhance our resiliency Downtown so that we can recover adapt and grow through COVID-19 and beyond.”
Lilley said he has been inspired by many businesses who have already made adaptations to their business model to continue serving the community. These quick-thinking modifications will continue to be necessary as the pandemic carries on and will require businesses and residents to band together and support each other.
“What we’ve been amazed to see and inspired by is the innovation and adaptability of our business community. I think when this first happened, a lot of people were forced into a different business model on the basis of no longer being able to accept people in and from there every day has been a journey,” he said. “COVID-19 makes it very clear, we’re all in this together. And we need to band together now more than ever to move through COVID-19 and beyond to be stronger than ever.”
A good example of a business that was able to adjust quickly to the pandemic is XTherapy Athletics, Lilley said. After being forced to close, the fitness studio rented out its 36 bikes along with other fitness equipment such as dumbbells and exercise bands.
The business then busted down a wall in the studio to expand its in-class space. For those still not comfortable using the space, workout videos were created on a subscription basis for customers to use. Lilley said these modifications are a perfect example of maintaining a sense of community and support through the pandemic.
“It’s giving people a sense of place where they can come and still engage with a community,” he said. “I think this report really does go to the notion of community at a deep level.”
The report was conducted and written by University of Alberta Master of Business Administration student Kennedy Quigley and presented at a panel discussion Thursday evening featuring local business leaders.