Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain wants local businesses to know they are not alone when it comes to surviving the COVID-19 crisis.

To develop a strategy to assist locally-owned retail businesses in Cleburne during this time of uncertainty, Cain recently developed the Operation Shop Local Task Force, which consists of local business owners and Cleburne Chamber of Commerce staff.

“After the tornado in 2013, I learned that the city does its best work when we identify those who have needs and those who can meet those needs and bring them together,” he said. “We knew that we had senior adults who were more vulnerable and we had people in the community that wanted to do something to help.”

Cain said the task force was charged with developing a safe system to assist those seniors in need of assistance and to discuss other ways to meet community needs during this time. 

“Just [Thursday], I asked that task force to expand its scope to investigating ways our charitable organizations can work together to ensure that as more people need assistance with food and supplies, that as a community we are equip to help,” he said. “This task force, led by councilman Mike Mann, ensures that we stay one step ahead of the communities needs during this crisis.”

Cleburne Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tara Janszen said the task force met on March 22, and after coming up with several ideas, created the Together Keeping Cleburne Strong Facebook group page.

“Our main goal was to create something that was simple, helpful, inclusive and positive,” she said. “The chamber team took the ideas from the task force and created the graphics and text for the group page, then emailed several businesses to let them know about the Facebook group and offered ideas for them to share on the page to promote their business in these challenging times.” 

Posts on the page show how each business is supporting one another.

Stephanie Hill, co-owner of Central Station Toys, handed out free flowers to people passing by the store before they closed until the virus runs its course.

“Thanks to Cleburne Floral for my last-minute-ish order request,” she said. “I tried to smile the entire time, but I teared up when these ladies stopped and thanked us for doing this. I wanted to hug them so badly, but we gave virtual hugs instead.”

Cain said he is not surprised to see Cleburne businesses support one another.

“That’s just how we roll in Cleburne,” he said. “I want to make sure that as a community we are prepared to step up and support our local businesses that are always there for us. The recovery following Covid-19 is going to be tough and our economy will take a massive hit. 

“However, if we all shop locally we can help these business owners rebound. It will take us all working together. I plan on leading council through ways we can help from the city’s perspective, but let me be blunt — government is never a good answer. It will be our people that will lead the way to recovery. And I know that Cleburne will be up to the task.”

Melissa Bennett, co-owner of Bennettt’s Printing & Office Supply, is chair of the shop local task force.

“You have to be pretty tough to own your own business because it takes dedication and determination every day,” Bennett said. “It also takes all of us supporting each other; supporting the other businesses, schools, civic organizations, churches. That builds a strong community because we all should have the same goal — to make Cleburne the best it can be. The other thought that pops in my brain is a cord of three is not easily broken so imagine a cord of 30,000 plus strands.”  

Cain remains hopeful for the future of Cleburne.

“At first all I could think of was what we have lost because of this crisis, but I was wrong,” he said. “We are pretty much down to the basic building block of society — the family. As our families go, so goes our churches and our community. During this time, my hope is that families will get stronger and as a result Cleburne will be stronger than ever when we get through this. 

“The reason Cleburne is so special is our people and they are shining during this time of crisis. I look forward to a celebration of handshakes and hugs. We will get through this and right now I want Cleburne to know that we may be isolated, but we are not alone.”

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