Don’t let the eclipse cast a shadow over your business

Idaho Falls

Situated along the Snake River at the western edge of the world-famous Rocky Mountains, Idaho Falls has all the features of big city living, but embraces a small town charm. As the regional center for healthcare, science & technology, shopping and entertainment, Idaho Falls is an attractive location for small and large businesses alike.

If you are a business owner, work at a place of business, or visit any businesses, this article is for you.

Although the solar eclipse itself won’t really affect people (besides it being a little dark for a couple minutes), the people coming to see it will.

According to the Idaho Department of Labor, east Idaho had a population of roughly 214,000 in 2015. With estimates of up to 500,000 people expected to view the eclipse in east Idaho, those extra 286,000 people will constitute an almost 134 percent increase in population.

That many people can, and will, cause a disruption to day-to-day living, businesses and more, which has Idaho Falls city officials wanting everyone to be prepared.

They are holding an Eclipse Community Meeting on Wednesday, July 26, at 7 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium to help get residents and business owners get prepared and to answer questions.

So if you plan on visiting a business, or running one, you will want to be aware of a few things.

Communications

With so many people wanting to share their eclipse pictures on social media, and just having that many visitors using their phones, cell service and other communication lines are going to have heavier traffic.

Phone carriers have been preparing their networks in regions directly affected by the eclipse, but that doesn’t mean issues won’t arise.

Many businesses now use the internet in all their transactions, from purchases and returns to inventory tracking, making day-to-day operations difficult should communication lines lag or fail. Depending on how a business runs credit cards, ringing up these types of transactions may also be delayed or unavailable.

Business owners should consider having extra cash on hand to make purchases or provide change for patrons, and patrons should consider getting cash from ATMs a few days before if possible.

If communication lines hold up well, the City of Idaho Falls’ emergency communication channels and local media can give you valuable information about what is going on around town should an emergency occur.

Food

More people means more mouths to feed. Grocery stores, restaurants, and other food services should plan on having more food on hand a few days before and after the eclipse than on a typical work week.

Eastern Idaho Public Health requires food license applications at least two weeks before events, or a low-risk food assessment, and suggests contacting them early in planning your event to ensure all licensing requirements are met and approved in a timely manner.

And if you aren’t in a food-based industry, consider keeping extra supplies and inventory during this time to cover the extra business.

Hurry up and wait

Plans have been made and are continuing to be discussed for what to do with the increase of traffic in the area.

Expect delays, which may be long, while traveling, and give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going.

First responders and police may take longer to get to you, so review emergency plans or make them so if something goes wrong, everyone will be prepared to respond.

This may mean operating generators in case of temporary power outages, reviewing employee responses if your business is at maximum capacity, or whatever extra precautions your business may need.

Although no one will be able to predict exact numbers of visitors or foresee all the challenges and benefits stemming from this event, planning ahead is a great way to ensure everything runs smoothly for business owners and patrons alike.

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