More legislative action is required, and fast
If you’re part of the Love Live Local community, you’re already aware of the importance of choosing to shop local whenever possible. Cape Cod’s small businesses are integral to the fabric of the place we call home, and they need us now more than ever. Consumer spending and demand at its current level is simply not enough to get Cape Cod’s small businesses through the current public health crisis and economic slowdown. Policy measures at every level of government are necessary to keeping these businesses open and their employees employed.
Our local businesses are resilient, innovative and working harder than they ever have to stay open. With winter bearing down, the future is looking pretty bleak to them. There is a real fear among Cape Cod’s small business community that many of them will not survive, which would have negative implications for our community as a whole.
Here are some policies and programs we have urged our federal, state and local governments to advocate for and support, as well as some simple actions you can take to add your voice to the discussion:
On Capitol Hill – rally our Reps in Congress
The federal government has passed a second stimulus package with opportunities to access some federal funding. You can find out about the next round of the Paycheck Protection Program, EIDL grants, Employee Retention Tax Credit, and venue grant program here.
Note that these options provide some temporary relief to small businesses, offering at most 3 months of operating funds for a crisis that will last well over a year and do not address all small businesses’ needs. And we will see if this round of the PPP will be better than the last, as it was largely inefficient and ineffective, difficult to access for many small businesses across the country, and in the end a huge chunk of the financial assistance went to large corporations that likely didn’t need it.
More help is and will continue to be needed, and our lawmakers need to continue to hear it. Passing a bill like the Small Business Local Relief Program would go a long way to helping the small businesses that need it.
Reach out to these representatives to let them know additional and widespread federal assistance is needed for our small businesses:
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Ed Markey
Congressman Bill Keating, 9th District
On Beacon Hill – ask more from our local delegates
The State of Massachusetts has not offered much in the form of relief to small businesses across the state. A limited amount of loan and grant programs to a small number of businesses and postponing sales tax payments is simply not enough to address the ongoing need. Additional policy interventions are necessary:
- Business Interruption Insurance: support a bill that would clarify the laws around business interruption insurance and ultimately require insurance companies to honor legitimate claims. Almost every business’ claim for business interruption insurance across the country has been denied because “pandemics aren’t covered.” However our Massachusetts businesses were ordered closed by the governor, which means their claims should fall under civil disruption. Many restaurants, hotels, and retailers have said passing this legislation could literally save their businesses.
Update: the bill introduced into the 2020 MA State legislative session never made it out of committee. Look for new legislation to be filed in 2021.
- Licensing fees: reduce or waive liquor and catering licensing fees, particularly those that the business is unable to use to its full extent or at all under current operating guidelines. Many service based businesses are paying thousands of dollars for catering licenses, for example, but there are no events to cater. However if they don’t renew the license, they lose them.
- Third party delivery fees: companies like Grub Hub and Uber Eats are price gouging local restaurants for use of their services, and state governments have the ability to place a cap on those fees.
1.6.21 Update – fees have been capped at 15% through the Economic Development Bill
- Cocktails-to-go: extend the cocktails-to-go legislation that was passed earlier this year allowing restaurants to include alcoholic beverages in their takeout offerings . It has provided a lifeline for many of our bars and restaurants, and will continue to do so in the future.
- Economic Development Bill: the State of Massachusetts 2021 economic development bill has been sitting in conference for months. It needs to be passed as soon as possible, including the Distressed Restaurants Fund which will bring much needed aid to our local restaurants who are perhaps suffering the most.
1.6.21 Update: The Economic Development Bill which includes $20,000,000 for restaurants has been sent to Gov. Baker’s desk
Reach out to the Cape & Islands Delegation to let them know our small businesses desperately need meaningful support from the state:
Senator Julian Cyr, Cape Cod & the Islands
Senator Susan Moran, Plymouth and Barnstable (Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich)
Representative Timothy Whelan, 1st Barnstable (Barnstable, Brewster, Dennis, Yarmouth)
Representative Kip Diggs, 2nd Barnstable (Barnstable, Yarmouth)
Representative David Vieira, 3rd Barnstable (Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee)
Representative Sarah Peake, 4th Barnstable (Chatham, Eastham, Harwich, Orleans, Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet)
Representative Steven Xiarhos, 5th Barnstable (Barnstable, Bourne, Sandwich, Plymouth)
Representative Dylan Fernandes, Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket
On Main Street – take your concerns to town
Towns and municipalities across the Cape have implemented many measures that have helped businesses reduce expenses by deferring tax payments, enabled them to expand their operations onto streets, sidewalks and public spaces in order to adhere to capacity limits and social distancing requirements, provided them with safety information and marketing materials and encouraged everyone to patronize small businesses. This kind of flexibility and measures are going to need to continue well into 2021.
Contact your local Select Boards, Town Councils and Economic Development offices and let them know small businesses need their continued support as the impacts of the pandemic continue to be felt.