Itemizer-Observer report

DALLAS — The Polk County Board of Commissioners has thrown its support behind a plan for reopening businesses across the state submitted to Gov. Kate Brown by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce.

“The clear and concise plan details the basis for this timely and profound recommendation that aims to help our businesses hardest hit by COVID-19 to pull through this economic recession and overcome their financial hardships,” read a press release from the BOC issued last week.

The commissioners ask that city, county and state officials and local chambers, council and business leaders to also support the plan.

 “The last nine months have been challenging. As County Commissioners we share the frustration that our local businesses, families and residents are dealing with,” Commissioner Lyle Mordhorst said. “Now more than ever our local businesses need all of our support. Today, I am asking you to join us in supporting the plan presented by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce. It is a statewide effort that is focused on positive results for our local business communities.”

 While there have been some city, county, state and federal COVID-19 relief loans, grants and programs offered, there has simply not been enough funding to go around, or really help these businesses survive this storm. 

The following is an excerpt from the plan:

Our businesses have been extremely responsible to our community and to the COVID-19 guidance coming from the state. The recent adoption of the Oregon OSHA COVID-19 Standard further means that Oregon workplaces are some of the safest and most sanitary places for customers and employees to be. Public health officials have been clear that COVID-19 is spreading in Oregon for reasons unrelated to our businesses being open.

Our local businesses deserve the same consideration as the large corporations that have prospered due to elimination of small business competition and our government employees that have been kept whole. The shutdown of our local businesses has paved the way for corporate giants to profit in the absence of thriving local business communities. Similarly, the Governor has made every effort to keep public employees drawing full paychecks. The “forgotten” people in this state have been our local businesses and their employees who have been crushed by their state government and left to fend for themselves.

The remedies to small businesses currently being offered by the state are completely inadequate. Last week’s distribution of $20 million of small business grants by Business Oregon closed after 15 minutes due to over-subscription. Similarly, the $55 million offered this past week by Governor Brown is wholly inadequate to match the current devastation in our local business communities. The economic damage to our local businesses and families is in the billions of dollars, not millions.

Shutdowns are sending our employees into a failed state unemployment system that has a history of failing to deliver timely benefits. This is disastrous for our valued employees and completely avoidable if they were simply allowed to work and earn their paychecks.

To help give our local businesses equal consideration, the OSCC and our Chamber members across Oregon are calling for:

Immediate re-opening of all Oregon businesses.

Substantial remedies to our local businesses that have been forced to shut down through no fault of their own as the state has deprived these businesses and employees of their livelihoods.

A $75 million Hospitality Relief fund dedicated to helping our state’s restaurants and hospitality businesses recover.

A moratorium on new or increased taxes and fees at the state and local level. Whether direct or indirect, these increase the cost of business and further deprive our businesses of cash flow.

Stabilization of the commercial rental market through a short-term tax credit for property owners that are willing to waive debt for commercial tenants that are behind on rent.

“OSCC is calling on Governor Brown and lawmakers to give local businesses and their employees the same consideration given to others during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the plan reads. “Local businesses and their employees have shouldered the largest costs imposed by state government and now is the time to help them recover.”

To read the entire document go to: https://bit.ly/2KI0MDg.

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