Summer Fest 2019

Center, Chloe Mountford throws three plastic balls at once as she plays a carnival game with Tania Singleton, left, and Miller Zingg, right, during Summer Fest on Thursday, June 20, 2019. The Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce hosts events like Summer Fest to promote its members and celebrate community. During a pandemic, the Chamber has had to evolve how it serves the area.

Normally, the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce hosts expos, networking parties and community events like Summer Fest to promote local business.

But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the chamber has had to evolve how it serves the area.

Executive director Judy Knutson said it’s taken on an amplified role of information dissemination. That includes which shops have deals and which industries are still hiring in an uncertain job market.

The chamber’s website also has a downloadable Excel document depicting which businesses and restaurants are open and closed at the top of its home page.

Knutson said it has also taken the initiative to contact Oregon establishments and communicate such resources to them.

“Since the beginning of this (“Safer at Home” order), the Chamber has reached out via regular emails, phone calls, texts and social media postings in order to stay connected to keep people informed,” Knutson said.

She said the chamber has been steadfast keeping up to date with government loans and grant assistance.

“Our weekly E-alerts have also included links to applications, information and helpful webinars,” Knutson said.

The links include financial resources from federal coronavirus relief, the Paycheck Protection Program, 20/20 Grant Program, Small Business Administration and Dane Buy Local. It also details updates from the Village of Oregon and from the federal Department of Agriculture’s rural Resource Guide.

She said it has also participated in continuous conference calls with the Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executives and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

But Knutson said Oregon’s businesses have been helping one another out as well.

When the Oregon Area Fire/EMS District expressed a need for face masks, and businesses stepped up to provide — and that’s just one example of the generosity, she said.

“The upbeat attitudes shown by our local businesses are heartening and inspiring,” Knutson said. “The Chamber is here for them … we will be here when the time comes for reopening and recovery.”

If a struggling business owner has an inquiry, they can contact the chamber at 835-3697 or check out its Facebook page for updates.

Email Emilie Heidemann at or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.