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Some businesses surviving while Virginia unemployment increases

Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 19:50:01-04

RICHMOND, Va., — The forklifts at ACME Paper & Supply Company on Richmond’s Southside rarely shut off these days.

The 90,000 square foot warehouse on Jefferson Davis Highway is filled with paper and plastic supplies ready to be shipped out.

“What's going on now is really extraordinary and something that I don't think anybody ever foresaw,” ACME Co-President Ron Attman said.

Attman employs more than 200 people across two states who are working to stock hospitals, nursing homes and restaurants with essentials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within the past few weeks their focus has been on healthcare.

“We’re really the last link in the supply chain moving product from the producers of the product, the actual manufacturers, to the end users and that's our role,” he explained.

While 70% of his office staff is working remotely, dozens of warehouse employees still arrive night and day to prepare and deliver supplies.

“It really takes a tremendous team of people to be able to meet the demands of today,” Attman described.

However, the number of people in the Commonwealth out of work continues to grow.

More than 100,000 Virginians have filed unemployment claims in the past week, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Thursday.

Overall there have been more than 415,000 claims filed in the last month. That accounts for about 9% of the state’s workforce.

More than 5 million Americans also filed jobless claims last week totaling more than 22 million out of work.

“They didn't want to give up”

Chesterfield families now have a new option for dinner when the restaurant industry as a whole is struggling.

Walied Sanie and James Baldwin opened Charred on Hull Street Road on March 18 at a time when other restaurants were closing their doors.

“We opened for the togo and delivery with the four managers and the two owners and that was it,” Baldwin explained. “It was really staff driven and they had gotten to the point where they didn't want to give up on it.”

The business partners, who also own Social 52 in the Fan, said the community has helped them survive.

“We're doing everything we can to keep our employees employed. We've actually been able to bring in some hourly employees because sales have been high enough that demanded additional staff,” Baldwin said. “We’re trying to put people to work during this time as much as we can. And the community support of that is what's allowing us to do that.”

Because Charred opened in March, they weren’t eligible for the loans that the government had been offering to small businesses.

“We're just kind of, we're just toughing it out as best we can. At this point there is there is no help from anybody outside of the local community supporting us,” Baldwin stated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.