Outdoor Orgs Develop Platform to Streamline Relief Efforts

As manufacturers and material suppliers scramble to meet the needs of essential providers during the COVID-19 crisis, a group of North Carolina organizations has stepped up to provide critical information and connections for U.S. manufacturers, material suppliers and the providers via a new website platform, Supply Connector. Brands pivoting to address shortages of PPE and other necessary products face a slew of obstacles in locating correct materials, regulatory information and direct connections to essential providers, said the groups behind the site. Supply Connector provides a nationwide platform for direct, rapid response to these obstacles.

The first phase of the Supply Connector website is already complete, allowing any company to list its needs or their ability to supply. Manufacturers can search for materials, design validation, labor or finished goods as well as list their ability to provide any of them. Essential providers can list their needs for finished goods or their ability to validate product design.

Existing relationships in the North Carolina outdoors industry led to the rapid development of this website, via a 100% volunteer effort from business management firm, Good Talk, and web design agency, Status Forward, with support from the NC Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, Growing Outdoors Partnership, North Carolina Outdoor Recreation Coalition and Outdoor Gear Builders. In the coming weeks, the team is planning to add advanced filter/search functions to the website and additional pages to address region-specific needs throughout the country.

“As manufacturers quickly recognized the widespread impact of COVID-19, they began to pivot their capabilities and use their skills, resources, and talent to help meet the needs of our heavily impacted healthcare system,” states Amy Allison, director of the NC Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, a division of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. “By pivoting, our manufacturers have been able to increase production and retain employees while remaining open as essential businesses amidst an uncertain economic landscape. This platform allows essential providers to quickly and directly connect with skilled manufacturers to get necessary products into places of need to help protect workers on the frontlines.”

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Worker at N.C.-based Sylvan Sport making protective gear

Manufacturers and those in need are encouraged to immediately start listing and searching on the site. The process is quick, with simple dropdown menus and easy to find contact information. Once the immediacy of the COVID-19 crisis is over, the team hopes the platform can continue to be a resource for all U.S. manufacturers and suppliers.

“Like any good trail system, connectors help you navigate the landscape more quickly. With COVID-19, we don’t have time for the long way around. Our manufacturers, suppliers, and essential providers need to connect rapidly to meet the urgent needs of their workers,” says Sarah Wood, Founder of Good Talk, and Board Chair of the NC Outdoor Recreation Coalition. “I am grateful for the quick collaboration with Status Forward and this group to make it happen and look forward to seeing this platform help bolster U.S. manufacturing as we ramp back up after COVID-19. But until then, it’s time to put this tool to good use.”

Supply Connector urges users to post, search, and use this platform daily for it to provide the most benefit. If you have a need, the ability to supply or manufacture, or a data set that you feel would benefit from this platform, please visit the Supply Connector site to create a new listing at supplyconnector.org or contact Sarah Wood at connect@supplyconnector.org.

Top Photo: Worker at a N.C. factory cutting face shields