Covid-19 crisis: A look back at mobilization of local support and assistance service

Information updated on 25/06/20

As soon as confinement was announced in France, Montpellier Métropole and the city of Montpellier set up a flexible and responsive service to help affected businesses and associations. Here’s a closer look at a team now playing overtime.

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An unprecedented crisis, unprecedented measures. When confinement due to COVID-19 went into effect in France, Montpellier Métropole and the city of Montpellier quickly understood that they needed to be proactive. Starting March 17, they decided to set up an economic support and assistance service with a dedicated team. It was clear to both authorities that this was the only way to provide businesses and associations affected by the crisis with appropriate responses to all their issues.

The team was organized rapidly – in just three days – including two new dedicated telephone numbers and a specific e-mail address. The service was launched and fully operational starting March 19.

Highly needed attention

The challenge was as great as the stakes. Not only was the unit intended to ensure personalized handling in every case, but it was also committed to answering people within 24 hours, with the strictest respect for confidentiality and protection of personal data.

Calls began to come in as soon as the service was launched, proof that this type of support corresponded to people’s real expectations. It was a particularly difficult moment, with many small and large associations and companies suddenly faced with the immediate stop of their activities. In particular, those organizations needed guidance to find the right support mechanisms and to be put in touch with the right contacts. The service welcomed independents, liberal professionals, shopkeepers, small and medium-sized companies, and associations working in different sectors. Every case was unique.

“There was no way for us to simply provide standard solutions,” confirms one of the team’s staff members.

An efficient measure

Every day, the team updated the appropriate Montpellier Métropole and city of Montpellier departments likely to provide answers on highly specific issues. The team also sought to identify the most frequently-asked questions in order to respond accurately and individually by telephone or e-mail. They also updated information in real-time on  dedicated web pages on entreprendre-montpellier.com.

Topics were completed with new information as the days went by, with different sections covering national and regional programs, calls-for-projects, mobilization, and sector-based solutions for digital technologies, health, tourism/hospitality, shops/artisans, associations, organizations in the social and solidarity economy, and more. A space was added for food and agroecology to help resolve issues for both producers and consumers. A section devoted to business initiatives highlighted the dynamics and commitment of stakeholders in the metropolitan area. An online form was also added as a means for people to communicate, for those who could not find information about their problem elsewhere on the site.

Montpellier and Montpellier Métropole are listening

The support team spared no effort and its hard work was appreciated. They received thanks from many people in the companies and associations they helped.

The service will remain operational as long as business stakeholders in the area need assistance.

“Thank you for listening and for your fast response”, “Thank you for this concrete information, we were totally lost... too many things happening all around, and you helped us find information that really helped us...”, and many more.

The city of Montpellier and Montpellier Métropole will continue to stay mobilized to help all local entrepreneurs.

* Two dedicated telephone numbers: +33 4 67 15 48 15 / +33 4 67 15 48 16
Dedicated e-mail address: covid19-soutien-economique@montpellier3m.fr

Concrete financial actions

In addition to creating the support and assistance service, Montpellier and Montpellier Métropole implemented a series of financial aid measures to bolster community solidarity with local businesses and associations and to defend employment.

2,000 businesses were exempted from the public space occupation tax, and another 2,000 located on Montpellier Métropole properties were exempted from paying rent. Furthermore, hotels were allowed to postpone their tourist tax payments; a fund was created to provide monthly support up to 500 € to pay professional leases (extended through May); new support actions were implemented for players and associations involved in the social and solidarity economy; additional support was provided to support associations; and measures were taken regarding public procurement.

Montpellier and Montpellier Métropole recently launched Phase 3 of their plan to support businesses.

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