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story.lead_photo.caption Moniteau County Regional Economic Development Council logo, California, Mo.

After a month without meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Moniteau County Regional Economic Development Council had its May meeting via a Zoom call last Wednesday.

MRED President Mike Kelley said much of his work during the pandemic has centered around providing businesses with resources that can help them in the midst of the pandemic. Kelley said this includes connecting them with entities like the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or others who can help.

"I was pretty dilligent about trying to keep people informed about the resources we had available," Kelley said.

Kelley said he thought Moniteau County businesses had weathered the storm well thus far, and he hasn't yet heard anything about anyone being forced to close permanently due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

MRED's Central Missouri Business Leaders have started back up in a similar digital format to last week's Zoom meeting. Earlier this month, the group had a meeting on the topic of "Leadership in Unique Times." The group will continue with another meeting today on creativity, shifts and pivots to keep businesses successful during uncertain times. Today's meeting will include a panel discussion at the beginning, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Kelley said Lunch and Learns had to stop since schools closed earlier in the semester, but the plan is to continue with them next school year if possible.

Prior to the pandemic, everything was ready to go for the annual meeting, Kelley said, which originally was set to take place April 9. He said the hope is hosting one may be possible sometime this year, but that will depend on public health guidances allowing for relaxed social distancing order amended group size restrictions.

"It's kind of out of our hands," Kelley said. "We'll see within the next two months and if we can, we'll do it."

If hosting the annual meeting in its usual format isn't possible, MRED will elect its officer slate at a regular meeting and go from there, Kelley said.

MRED's annual report was also sent out to members earlier this month.

Moving forward in the landscape of COVID-19, Kelley said it's important the Moniteau County community focuses inward to help its small businesses stay afloat.

"We need to do everything we can to support the businesses in our region coming out of this," Kelley said. "We need to start doing more local business in everything we do as individuals to help the small businesses in our region succeed and come out of this with as little damage to them as possible. That's my rally call for everyone out of this."

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