Business

Japan's chambers of commerce get creative in helping local businesses weather pandemic

Jiji

Regional chambers of commerce and industry around Japan are coming up with creative ways to help local businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sapporo Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched a website in early March to showcase local delicacies such as cheese, sweets and agricultural and seafood products. The initiative seeks to support producers stuck with large stockpiles of goods after product fairs were canceled due to the pandemic.

Over the course of about two weeks, the site racked up sales of over ¥100 million through online shopping and other routes. It has been receiving over 10 requests for product listings per day.

The Obihiro Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also in Hokkaido, is providing information about restaurants with takeout services on its Tsunagu Marche website.

Cardinal, a French restaurant, has created appetizer platters and course menus that people can eat in their home.

“We are drawing up a delivery menu, such as one with Tokachi beef stewed in red wine,” owner Yoshihiro Kato, 41, said.

At the Nanao Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ishikawa Prefecture, young people built a website for local residents to order takeout from eateries in the area and another website for people outside the prefecture to order items from the district.

“Customers are posting (information about the sites) on social media, so we’re becoming more known,” said Nobuyuki Ota, 43, who is involved in managing the sites.

The Kobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry tied up with a local television station to boost its outreach through the station’s website for supporting local businesses.

The Shiojiri Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nagano Prefecture is helping businesses find new employees. It has introduced staff from a hotel that suspended operations to a farmer in need of workers. The chamber said it has been receiving inquiries from many people, including students.

At the Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Miyagi Prefecture, a crowdfunding initiative launched by young people to support local restaurants raised roughly ¥25 million in a three-week span starting in late March. The initial goal was only ¥5 million.

Many of the people who took part in the crowdfunding initiative live in Miyagi now or didso previousl.

The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry plans to roll out such financial support measures nationwide.

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