Local business voices: Graduation


Macaulay Whitaker

Macaulay Whitaker



Macaulay Whitaker



I graduated a kindergartner this month. We did it by appointment only, with only five guests per family and all the pomp and circumstance social distancing would allow. I can only imagine what it felt like for those high school seniors, community college and university graduates. A celebration no less, but not exactly the sendoff you or your family imagined.


As we begin sending these graduates to their next phase of life, I'm sure we've all tried to impart some wisdom to them to help them navigate the world. Don't skip class. Always remember to be safe. You can't take naps in first grade.


In a way, we've all been to COVID-19 school over the last quarter, and we're graduating now, venturing out into the world.



Restrictions are loosening. Businesses that have been closed since March like hair salons and casinos are among the latest sectors to be allowed to reopen. More people are out and about, with masks and gloves a more commonplace occurrence. With Memorial Day approaching Monday, undoubtedly beaches and lakes and rivers will see people needing a change of scenery.


Recommendations from both governmental and health care sources still advise wearing some element of personal protective equipment for all citizens and to practice decreased travel and exposure.


Many employers continue to call employees back to work, a vital step in moving our economy forward and out of this economic crisis. If you are able, and feel safe and secure doing so, returning to work is something you can do to boost the economy in a positive direction.


One of our partners in Jackson recently published some advice in a Back to Work Toolkit for Businesses. The chambers of commerce in Columbus, Starkville and West Point have all also provided their communities with tools and information like this as well. All of these are posted on our website under the COVID-19 Resources Page.


Some of the most reassuring sources of advice we've seen are area employers assisting each other. HR managers have been sharing their experiences on conference calls. Companies who are hiring have reached out to other companies who have had layoffs, both working together to get people back to work. Companies have shared 3D printing files with educators to print PPE since shipping delays are turning into operating delays.


I was able to participate in a call with EMCC, MSU and our area manufacturers where a connection was offered with a company that manufactures wearable athletic tech. This company is now working on research with MSU for COVID-19 related wearable tech and an invitation for our employers to participate was extended.


We've heard of or witnessed these and many other examples of the employer network in the Golden Triangle connecting to provide resources. Regardless of the size or type, businesses everywhere continue to be faced with challenges adapting to maintain their livelihood.


States across the nation are implementing plans for reopening in various phases. Gov. Reeves' "Safer At Home," executive order is set to expire on Monday, May 25. We'll have to see what follow-up orders or advisements come from Jackson, but it's safe to say we won't just revert back to business-as-usual for some time.


Graduation can be exciting, and freedom even in the smallest form is tempting. There are tons of resources available to give you guidance and, perhaps, a sense of security about how to navigate our current environment safely. While sifting through all the information can be exhausting if you find some advice that keeps you safe, share it with your business peers and employees.


If you have some free time, rest safely this holiday weekend. You probably haven't had a nap since kindergarten.


Macaulay Whitaker is the chief operating officer for the Golden Triangle LINK.





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