BY SHARON HILLSTROM

As more businesses resume operations during the state-directed phased reopening, keeping customers and employees safe during the coronavirus pandemic is the top priority.

As an essential business, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is working remotely to assist established businesses in Manatee County as they adapt during the pandemic, and we continue to communicate daily with companies interested in relocating or expanding to Manatee County.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a primary focus as we anticipate and respond to the needs of established local businesses. Our latest initiative seeks to inform companies about personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers and other vendors whose goods or services are necessary for keeping customers and employees safe as businesses reopen.

We asked businesses that were deemed “essential” and have continued to operate to share procedures they have been using to protect their people.

Air Products is an essential business supporting many key industries while addressing the increasing demand for clean energy around the world. The company’s manufacturing facility located near Port Manatee has maintained productivity throughout the COVID-19 crisis, according to Mark Evans, director of manufacturing and plant manager.

“We have been successful in keeping COVID-19 out of the facility by working with and educating our workforce and visitors,” Evans said. In addition to work-from-home options, Air Products has instituted health screening, social distancing and mask-wearing protocols in the plant. “I have asked our team to adopt as many of these measures as possible in their own social and home lives, and not just at work, as the state begins its larger, staged back-to-work process.”

“We have continued to hire, but the process has been disrupted since we had to conduct interviews during the stay-at-home order, and candidates have had delays completing background checks,” he said. “Hopefully, we can accelerate our hiring in the coming weeks.”

Anish Patel, president at Radiant Power Corp. / Dukane Seacom Inc., described similar safety protocols at his manufacturing facility, which is expanding, despite the pandemic. Patel said that communication is a high priority in maintaining safe working conditions.

“We have reinforced our open-door communication policy where all team members can voice any concerns or ideas,” he said. “We are continuously monitoring the latest news and information so we can adjust our processes accordingly, and we established a text alert system to notify all team members of any important news or activity.”

“Our team and customers are very supportive of these measures,” Patel said. “I believe they appreciate the open and honest communications about the steps we are taking and the near-term business outlook.”

Also an essential business, Mader Electric Inc. has remained fully operational and staffed throughout the pandemic, said Michael Jeffries, the company’s president. Mader Electric’s business requires employees to make service calls at customers’ locations, which triggers enhanced safety protocols.

The company provides face shields, masks and gloves as necessary and instructs employees on social distancing when face-to-face with customers. Disinfecting wipes are in every business vehicle, and drivers are instructed to wipe down the inside of the vehicle and the door handles every time they use a vehicle.

In these uncertain times, businesses must remain informed and engaged to keep employees and customers safe. The EDC has compiled workplace safety tips on our website, along with a list of vendors providing PPE and other supplies businesses may need for safe operations during the pandemic.

We invite businesses in Manatee and Sarasota counties to apply to be added to the PPE resources listing. Please visit our dedicated COVID-19 web page for more information and to sign up for periodic email updates: BradentonAreaEDC.com/COVID19.