Nearly two weeks after Governor Phil Scott proposed a $400 million stimulus package for local businesses, business owners are urging lawmakers to act quickly to approve this aid. The proposal uses federal CARES act money. It includes emergency grants and loans for businesses.
Local business owners say COVID 19’s impacts have been devastating and they need additional funding before it is too late.
“We are asking that you allow us to access every tool available to remain in business for the sake of our employees, our communities, and the entire business ecosystem of Vermont,” said owner of Bluebird Barbeque Sue Bette. “The future of our vibrant and creative restaurant industry depends on it.”
Retail business owners said they have received PPP or Paycheck Protection Program Loans, but it has not been enough. Owner of Stowe Mercantile Marc Sherman said if he can get funding quick, he can save his business as well as his employees and their families.
“It got my business through eight weeks of payroll and rent, but as we go into later June, I have no other source of funds to keep the business going,” said Sherman.
Executive director of the Vermont Cheese Council Marty Mundy said the dairy and cheese making industry is seeing detrimental losses. Some farms have had to close completely. She said cheesemakers are seeing 25-75% sales losses across the state.
“So, it takes years for farmers to build up these herds and it took COVID a matter of weeks to start downsizing them,” said Mundy.
Mundy along with other business owners also called for grants rather than loans to ensure long-term success.
“Many of our makers are not in a position where they would take on more loans at this time,” said Mundy.
Business owners also feel that immediate emergency grant assistance should be used in combination with any other additional federal relief.