PPE, marketing assistance, and operational money is available to Syracuse Businesses
BY HAILEY MINTON
West Davis Chamber of Commerce and Syracuse City are partnering to help local businesses weather economic hardships. The city has access to $2.7 million of federal aid to be used as Coronavirus aid that will be dispersed in three rounds of $900,000.
Director of the West Davis Chamber of Commerce, Ryan Rentmister, said, “We did a survey and found three universal needs among business owners: personal protective equipment, operational money to stay open, and advertising.”
“We are giving a one-page application for the businesses where they can request what they need, the chamber will review them, and the city will approve them if they qualify.” Business owners can reach out to the chamber if they want to apply.
The Business Environment
“A lot [of businesses] are barely holding on,” said Ryan. He noticed businesses that have been hit hard include those involved in hospitality and tourism, along with the suppliers of those industries. “…theaters, trade shows, handmade crafts, and swap meet type businesses are also struggling.” Ryan said there are a ton of Syracuse home-based businesses that support trade shows, and now they are almost completely gone. Fast food restaurants seem to be holding their own, but dinein places are struggling. Now would be a good time to show some love to places like Hug Hes Cafe and The Bird.
He said a lot of businesses have struggled, not because they had to shut their doors, but because no one knew they were open and available to work. The chamber has resources to help businesses with social media and digital marketing if they request it. The city is buying advertising space here in the Syracuse Connection, and it will serve as a public service announcement and be available for local businesses to advertise.
Ryan said he knows someone who lost 90% of her business overnight. The future can look bleak when there are bills to pay, yet the cashflow has slowed to a trickle. Think of the hair stylists and karate instructors who had to say goodbye to their clients while the businesses continued paying for rent, utilities, and other operational costs. You can see why it can be tough to stay afloat during times like these.
Some businesses find customers are hesitant and people are postponing their service. People still need heating, air, and water, so Ryan’s business is doing ok. It is the businesses that offer more discretionary products or services that are struggling. The golf course was shut down for three months, and it seems that anything dealing with events, weddings, or graduations have been severely affected. “Some businesses have moved out of the city, others greatly reduced and are barely holding on,” said Ryan. “I hope this will help them hold on.”
Ryan said that, with his business, they have needed to exercise more caution, do a ton of cleaning, train the employees, and go through a lot of PPE as they serve their customers. The city wants to help with other local businesses in this way so they can keep their doors open. They will be purchasing a lot of PPE, and the chamber will be dispersing it to the businesses in need.
This program is exclusive to businesses located within Syracuse City. What if you are a business owner who lives in Syracuse but has a business in another city? Not to worry! There are funds available with other counties and cities. In fact, Syracuse City is planning on dispersing half of the first round of funding to the Davis County business assistance program. Anyone with a business in Davis County can apply for a grant from them. When in doubt, Ryan suggested to reach out to your local chamber of where your business is based. If you need any help, Ryan said to reach out to him and he can help get you connected.
Ryan also stressed the importance of buying local. If a person spends money within their own city, a higher percentage of sales tax goes back to the city. This can reduce the tax demand on residents in the city. According to Local First Utah, studies show that for every dollar spent locally, four times more of that dollar stays in that economy. Buying local comes with a lot of benefits, like creating a close-knit community and getting personalized customer care. Local businesses create more jobs per consumer dollar spent. Local innovation insures marketplace diversity with a wider selection of choices, and buying local keeps prices lower over the long term. Along with that, local business owners are more likely to give back to the community.
Using the Money
The federal money provided through the CARES Act gives guidance on how the funding can be used, but it doesn’t spell out specifics. There has been a lot of debate among other cities about what is and what is not an appropriate use for the money. The Syracuse City Council is wanting to take a conservative approach, according to Brody Bovero. The city could get audited, and if the funds aren’t used appropriately, the city could be held responsible to pay the money back. Bovero said the second and third round of funding isn’t guaranteed, but they are fairly confident it will come through. In the city council meeting on July 28, 2020, the council discussed how they would appropriate the funds. The plan for the time being is illustrated in bar on the right.
Brody Bovero pointed out that, in the third phase, they have a $650,000 reserve in case there is an unforeseen need, and if not, they will return it to the U.S. Treasury. “This isn’t money that is falling out of heaven. We all pay for it, or our children are going to pay for it. From a philosophical standpoint, we feel it’s our duty to only use it for things we need. If we don’t need it, we return it.”
Noah Steele, the Community and Economic Development Director for Syracuse City, said, “A business is their baby, the last thing [a business owner] wants to think about is closing… We have a lot of really great businesses we want to see weather the storm.”
If you are interested in watching the city council meeting where they discussed how they would use these funds, go to the Syracuse City YouTube channel. Watch the City Council Work Session streamed on July 28, 2020 and skip ahead to 3:15:38 – 3:42:45
Visit the link below for some great local businesses you can help support during these difficult times!