Vermont Business Magazine Vermont business owners came together on Wednesday to discuss the unprecedented economic struggle they face due to the pandemic, and to ask the legislature to increase funding for Economic Recovery Grants.
“I urge the legislature to appropriate the full $50 million in additional funding for additional Economic Recovery Grants for those businesses who continue to show economic loss through COVID-19,” said George Sales, Managing Owner of Pica-pica Filipino Cuisine, a restaurant in Saint Johnsbury. “It is small businesses like ours that help to share our communities, provide spaces and places for our friends, neighbors and visitors to come together. Losing these businesses will be devastating to our communities. We’ve come so far as a state through this pandemic, and we are doing all that we can to stay afloat.”
“I am really grateful that my business has been able to continue to host small events, but for safety reasons we have had to wildly scale back,” said Sas Stewart, Owner of Adventure Dinner which operates out of Vergennes. “I want to keep providing incredible experiences for Vermonters to enjoy, and it is my hope that the legislature recognizes the existing need and increases funding for recovery grants that will be a lifeline to businesses such as mine.”
Businesses were some of the first to step up and make tough decisions in order to keep their employees and communities safe. Because of these limiting operating procedures, The COVID-19 pandemic has forced numerous businesses to shutter for good. The unmet need in Vermont has been calculated at $500 million by ACCD. The governor proposed $50 million in economic recovery grants, and now the legislature is proposing to cut that to $20 million.
“I thought it was hard enough to learn this business when I first bought it. But this past fiscal year has been extraordinarily stressful,” said Kim Borsavage, Owner of the Lang House on Main Street in Burlington. “I am so grateful for the PPP loan that I was able to receive. But we are nowhere near normal levels of revenue and running a business safely during the pandemic is expensive. Businesses such as mine will need more support to get through this.”
Vermont’s business owners see these economic recovery grants as investments in the state. These grants flow through businesses and back into state coffers through payroll tax, sales and use tax and meals and rooms tax. They also have positive ripple effects throughout the supply chain and business ecosystem, as every business in the state relies heavily on a healthy supply chain. When one sector struggles, the impacts are felt throughout Vermont.
“I have been grateful for the help I have received, but it’s just nowhere near enough to get me back to operating at the levels I was in 2019,” said Perry Armstrong, Owner of Rain or Shine Tents and Events. “The entire events sector is in turmoil. The unmet need in Vermont has been calculated at $500 million by ACCD. The governor proposed $50 million in economic recovery grants, and now the legislature is proposing to cut that to $20 million. That is just not enough, and I am here today to ask the legislature as they work to finish the budget, to please at least meet the governor’s proposal of $50 million.”
Source: Montpelier, Vermont. leoninepublicaffairs.com 5.5.2021