After the Pandemic

City of Ashland Refers Businesses to Chamber

By Ashland Confidential

A Slightly Snarky Column

The City of Ashland sent out a release on Tuesday entitled: “City of Ashland Supports Economic Relief” offering businesses the web address of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.

In its release the city writes:

“The City continues to partner with the Chamber of Commerce as the primary information and support resource to assist local businesses.

Programs include:

  • Paycheck Protection Program Loans
  • Small Business Debt Relief Program
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans & Emergency Economic Injury Grants
  • Small Business Tax Provisions/Credits

To learn more about these programs, including FAQ’s and eligibility information, go to www.ashlandchamber.com

The release refers to a recent federal stimulus package and encourages businesses to pursue assistance under that program.

The city continues by underlining what it claims are its priorities:

“Maintaining our water supply, electrical grid, ambulance, fire and police service, broadband internet and other essential community services continues to be the City’s primary objective.”

If you do not recognize yourself on this list, it’s not that the city fails to care about you, it just fails to care very much about you.

Local businesses which keep the City of Ashland alive are facing catastrophic losses. They are facing possibly months without any real revenue. They still owe utilities, water, food and beverage taxes, they just get to turn those checks over in June. Where will that money come from?

The city’s plan for revitalizing our tourist town after a global pandemic is to have people flood the Chamber of Commerce website?  I’m sure the Chamber will try but isn’t this a bigger job?

I have sat with business owners who have shed tears about the businesses they’re losing and the worries they feel about a town they love and the heartbreak of not being able to care for their employees. None of them said to me, “But I’ll hit up the Chamber of Commerce website and I’m sure it will be okay.” What they said instead was, “I have no idea how we’ll survive this. I don’t know how the City of Ashland will continue. I need real help, not an extension on fees but waiving fees. I need help paying my rent. I need something real.”

I’ve spoken to every day people who fear their jobs are not coming back, who fear when the pandemic is over they will be buried in utility bills and rents that they have no ability to pay. I even spoke to the well off who say they’ll have to try and sell their assets to stay alive. Those without assets predict they may become unhoused or have to find a family member to take them in.

While the feds offer of $1,200 dollars is helpful, it is not going to make up for months of no paychecks.

This is what’s real for people living and working and owning businesses in Ashland.

Meantime, what is the City of Ashland doing to tighten its belt? Are city staffers being laid off without pay? Will the city revisit its many public works projects based on this massive change in revenue? Will the city consider something less than double digit raises for staff or the fleets of new vehicles? Will it sell properties or enter partnerships to keep business people and regular people from drowning?

We are in an unprecedented time in history. We will be remembered by how well we take care of each other or we will not be remembered at all.

//inserted by Sharon