As of 11 a.m. Friday, March 20, 44 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and 12 others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
The wave of economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus is being acutely felt by local businesses and their workers. This requires immediate action by the federal government to inject capital and confidence into the business community.
The scope of this crisis demands action from all levels of government. It also should compel people to continually consider ways that they, as finances and safety allow, can take action on an individual level to continue to support their local businesses, organizations and fellow community members.
The public health imperative of social distancing does not mean we need to remove ourselves completely from our local economies and local communities. Choosing to support your favorite local organizations and businesses now can help ensure that they survive to keep providing services and jobs in the future. As much as possible, the focus should be on doing local business online to limit in-person interaction.
It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of a global pandemic, but there are small things people can do. Buying gift cards at businesses you would normally spend money at, for example, can provide some much-needed cash flow. Even if you aren’t able to use that gift card right away, that purchase can make a real difference for businesses trying to weather this difficult time. Think of it as investing in places that have already proven their value.
Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications of Bangor has launched a new initiative, #backingbangor, which includes information on ways to help both organizations and businesses here in the Bangor area. The suggestions include ordering curbside pickup or delivery from l ocal restaurants, donating to the United Way of Eastern Maine, holding a virtual food drive, buying gift cards, streaming the Penobscot Theatre’s performance of “ Safety Net,” and listening to audiobooks through a local bookstore.
“Coming from a place where we remember how far Bangor has come, during this time of uncertainty we wanted to create a message of support and a rallying point to how we as a community can collectively do some good,” Sutherland Weston says on its new backingbangor website.
Donations and thinking about how we direct our purchases to support local causes have tremendous power during this time of uncertainty. These positive forces, however, must be bolstered by government action as small businesses work to survive this large-scale economic disruption.
The U.S. Small Business Administration approved Gov. Janet Mills’ application to make small business disaster loans available to Maine businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Sen. Susan Collins has led a $300 billion effort to support small businesses across the U.S. through a mixture of federal loans and grants. The economic response to coronavirus will require many pieces fitting together at the federal, state and local levels.
“On Sunday, Maine celebrated its 200th anniversary of achieving statehood. Since joining the union two centuries ago, we have faced our share of challenges. But Mainers are resilient,” Collins said in a recent OpEd in the BDN. “By staying true to our time-tested values of hard work, dedication, and ingenuity, and by safely supporting our neighbors and small businesses in our communities, I know that, together, we will overcome this challenge too.”
The government should be taking the lead in responding to the economic pain caused by the coronavirus. But this moment also calls for individual acts of kindness and commerce.