In early April, decision-makers around the state in business, healthcare and local government were wrestling with rapidly emerging issues related to the growing number of COVID-19 cases. In the Lowcountry, One Region quickly mobilized at the request of local leadership to address these issues and lead the creation of an economic recovery plan for Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.

One Region was launched in 2016 to support the region’s efforts to be a globally competitive place where all people and businesses flourish, so it was a natural fit for this organization to take the lead in the region’s recovery efforts.

As work began on the recovery plan, One Region called on Chernoff Newman to help with communicating multilingual health guidelines and a COVID situational assessment dashboard, which One Region created in partnership with MUSC. The next phase involved rolling out a pledge program to build consumer confidence and help reopen businesses safely.

Part of the process for creating this plan involved understanding how area residents felt about issues such as their health and safety, as well as their finances and returning to normal activities. Understanding these dynamics and analyzing behaviors and perceptions from real-time, localized data gave One Region the insights to support the plan and target the messaging to successfully communicate the plan throughout the region.

In the early weeks of the pandemic, Chernoff Newman had already seen the need for this kind of data insights for our clients and for our community as a whole. In April, we launched the first round of surveys of our coronavirus study to get a real-time look at how consumers in North and South Carolina felt about issues related to the virus. By the time we put the second survey in the field in late June, a lot had changed since April. We knew we had to dig into more specific questions about masks, safety protocols and comfort levels with returning to pre-pandemic activities.

One of the most significant findings of the Chernoff Newman Insights Study pointed to the fact that over 73 percent of the people surveyed place a high value on simply the presence of safety protocols and would be more likely to visit a business in-person if they know the business had practices in place.

This insight about consumers’ need for information about safety protocols supported a major element of the region’s recovery plan — One Region Ready Pledge. The pledge demonstrates to customers, clients, vendors and employees that a business is following One Region Ready, AccelerateSC and CDC guidelines.

From the initial concept of a pledge program to encourage companies to sign a pledge through the One Region Ready website, Chernoff Newman recognized the need to show consumers how many businesses were making the efforts to protect their customers’ and employees’ health and safety. The survey data supported this approach by illustrating that consumers would reward those businesses with loyalty.

The One Region Ready pledge saw significant regional media attention plus local and statewide elected officials touted it as a key tool in returning the Tri-County region back to work safely. From commencing the project to rolling out of the plan — including the business pledge program — Chernoff Newman helped launch and promote the program in less than six weeks.

Today, the One Region Ready pledge has nearly 300 businesses participating. It continues to support local efforts through Lowcountry businesses, local governments and the medical community to promote health and safety during the era of COVID-19.