Minnesota Opinion: Our businesses need a shot in the arm

Summary: Latest actions to control COVID-19 take a toll on businesses, workers

As the world waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, small businesses in our neighborhoods desperately need an economic shot in the arm.

On Nov. 24, Gov. Tim Walz and state legislators pitched their plans to lend state support to struggling businesses and workers.

The proposals come on the tails of Walz's latest executive orders meant to blunt the spikes of infection in the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The temporary closures of gyms and entertainment venues and limits on bars and restaurants have left many businesses and workers in dire financial straits.

House Republicans are offering $400 million in grants to businesses, sales tax and fee relief. They would also reopen gyms and fitness centers and temporarily let restaurants, bars and breweries sell growlers and take-away beverages beyond their current cap.

Walz and House Democrats pitched $350 million in direct aid payments to businesses, extend unemployment insurance benefits to workers and provide tax credits and grants to businesses that donate food to the needy.


The two sides need to get working. Time is a factor. The state's federal CARES money is nearly depleted, and there's little hope Congress can deliver a second stimulus package anytime soon. State lawmakers in the divided Legislature say they can deliver something before Christmas.

But while lawmakers hammer out the details, there's no reason we as consumers can't provide a stimulus package of our own.

There are (more than 50,000 households in west central Minnesota). If each household (in the region) purchased a $25 gift card from a local shop, it would inject (more than $1.2 million into our regional economy.) We realize many of our families are struggling, and not everyone can afford $25, but those families and businesses doing well might be able to do even more.

Now, $1.2 million isn't enough to save every struggling worker, but it just might be enough to keep some local shops operating until we can wrestle COVID-19 to the ground.

And if you're looking for a recipient for your gift card, consider a local nonprofit organization in your community that could use your help.

This editorial is the opinion of the Rochester Post Bulletin Editorial Board.

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