BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
For the last several months, life has been a version of existence that I never planned for when starting Pen City Current.
The COVID-19 virus, the George Floyd story and its ensuing chaos, and even the death of our 20-year-old daughter Kelsey, has me struggling to reboot at all levels.
Our daughter is now remembered through the love and sympathy of family and friends, and in the beautiful sunflowers that have sprouted in my new backyard the COVID stimulus built. We were supposed to spend that money, right?
I’m writing now in that backyard looking at those flowers with a cup of Green Mountain vanilla coffee and a bowl of fruit. The gnats thought they could join, but some Bug Soother© and citronella have them at bay for the time being.
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Gnats are representative of my childrens’ lives at home. You can pester the hell out of each other, but don’t bite.
With all that is going on, gnats aside, I’ve been taking in a lot and wondering where we fit in – wondering how this company rebounds personally and professionally. We took a hit during the pandemic, but because we operate on a small footprint, we’re doing OK.
The Google News Initiative recognized Pen City Current last week for our efforts to continue to provide daily news on the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as our efforts to keep readers informed of important other community news. All while advertising revenues that support those efforts waned.
The program https://newsinitiative.withgoogle.com/journalism-emergency-relief-fund, awarded the grant to help continue those efforts, and we want to share that with businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 closures.
So… our grant becomes your grant.
Starting June 1, we are going to pay half of all advertising packages for anyone whose business was closed due to the pandemic – restaurants, services, and anyone else whose business, due to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’ disaster declarations, was closed due to the outbreak. If you were functional, but had your inside businesses shuttered, we’re paying half, up to $250, toward your package for June.
The grant is to allow us to continue operations in these tough times, and we have to document where the money is being spent. We choose to spend it on you.
If you’re already investing with us for your advertising and the state locked your doors, you’ll see a credit on your next bill.
For some this is but a small break, but not to us. We’ve only been in this business three-and-a-half years, so that revenue is critical to us. But we think sharing the grant with local businesses is the best way to go.
The next month will be critical in reaching out to your customers and letting them know about your resets and safety measures. We have close to 10,000 social media followers and have about 95,000 unique visits to our website each month. We also have 700 people reading our e-edition daily.
So give me a call this week or shoot me an email. We’ll be reaching out to you as well. Share this on your social media channels… spread the word.
This year so far has been unprecedented, unnerving, dizzying, scary, and heartbreaking. But I’m just a little inspired on a Sunday morning with the flowers, the breeze, and an umbrella keeping the sun off me for the moment.
And don’t forget to vote on Tuesday. There are a lot of important elections as part of this primary season. Check our site for more information on candidates and polling locations. If you haven’t participated in early voting or absentee, just put on a mask, stay six feet away, and mark the oval,… but that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-founder of Pen City Current and can be reached at 319-371-1670 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.