Still open for business?

SpringfieldZoom.com displays the current status of businesses in Sangamon county

A new website, SpringfieldZoom.com, will consolidate business information across Sangamon county to keep consumers apprised of the status of their favorite local businesses and their services in one, easily searchable place.

Mark Roberts III, owner of GoWeb1 and AlertsMadeEasy.com, said the idea came to him last week after the governor announced school closures. “I was doing a Google search to see what businesses were open; I knew there would be a lot of changes in operational status.” Roberts said he couldn’t find a master list other than a site in the Chicago area, which gave him the idea to start something similar for Springfield.

On Sunday evening, Roberts and other Downtown Springfield Inc. members received an email update from executive director Lisa Clemmons Stott. “I replied to the email to see if there was anything we could do to help,” explained Roberts. “I volunteered to build a website and use AlertsMadeEasy.com to communicate with other DSI members. That started the ball rolling.”

Beginning on Monday, Roberts said he and his team worked 48 hours straight to build the SpringfieldZoom.com website as a free tool to help businesses and organizations quickly communicate their operational status to the public. Any Sangamon county business or organization can simply click on “Register My Business” to get started. It takes less than three minutes for a business to create a free account, which can be updated as the situation changes. Businesses can note whether they are open with modifications such as lobby closed or accepting teleconference meetings, and restaurants can include additional notes about delivery or takeout options.

“As we’re living in a different environment right now, we felt it’s critical that businesses can continue to operate as normally as they can under the circumstances,” said Roberts. “This was built to compliment all the traditional media outlets to get the word out.”

According to Roberts, Stott suggested it would make more sense as a larger initiative and by Wednesday, Roberts had a sample of the website ready to unveil on a conference call with the partner economic development organizations.

Those organizations, including the City of Springfield’s Office of Planning and Economic Development, Sangamon Springfield Growth Alliance, The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Springfield Inc, Innovate Springfield, Macarthur Boulevard Association, Local First Springfield and Illinois Small Business Development Center at Lincoln Land College will market this site as Sangamon County’s one-stop information source for consumers to look up business openings and closings throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“It’s hard enough to operate a business in a normal environment,” said Roberts, who noted that he is a small business owner who also has experience in the restaurant industry. “We wanted to create a tool to help and support businesses with their operations.”

“We don’t know yet what the economic impact of this is going to be all over the world.”

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