In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, we are first and foremost concerned about the public’s health and safety. A close second is the concern for the small businesses forced to close their doors in rapid succession. We are witnessing measures taken for the greater good that could change the landscape of our community for some time to come.
If you are a small business owner, consider signing and sharing the following letter that will be sent to state leaders the morning of March 23. If you have questions, contact Stephanie Vasquez owner of Fair Trade Cafe, the originator of the letter along with Danielle Leoni of Breadfruit and Rum Bar, and Silvana Salcido Esparza of Barrio Cafe.
Dear Governor Ducey, Senators and Representatives:
As you know, our state is being dramatically affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from the physical and emotional toll of this unprecedented virus, our state is suffering economically to a degree that is unsustainable and resulting in dire consequences for far too many. Particularly, our small business owners are some of the hardest-hit; many without the resources available to them to navigate through these uncertain times and without the prospects that there will be a change in their currently daily norms any time soon. As a result, too many employees have been asked to stay home, too many community members can no longer safely support their local stores, restaurants and bars, and the rapid and constant changes that accompany each day are only further compounding the economic distress. While our small business owners continue to do their best to adjust their day-to-day operations in order to keep themselves and all Arizonans safe, what is rapidly becoming a reality is that they cannot sustain their current operations, must consider shutting down completely, and will have to face the array of consequences that will undoubtedly follow the abrupt outright closure of their businesses.
This is why we write to you and implore you to act today. As a preliminary matter, we want to assure you that any funds available coming from the Small Business Administration (SBA) is simply not enough. These loans inherently carry numerous barriers to qualification for far too many small business owners in Arizona and only the larger businesses that can provide sufficient collateral or adequate history will reap its benefits; leaving countless small and locally owned businesses behind without a realistic option that will not require them to further endanger the only assets they have remaining.
Simply put, truly small family-owned businesses require your urgent attention. To that end, we ask that before you head to the safety of your homes and loved ones, that you assist those experiencing the brunt and very real economic consequences of these unparalleled times. For example, other major cities including Philadelphia and Seattle have already acted to stabilize the situation for their family-owned small businesses. We can too. Here is how we can make a real difference for our community:
- Financial Relief and Employee Protection: Provide small businesses with up to six-months of operational expense relief through loan forgiveness and/or no-interest capital. The financial support will ensure we can continue to support and pay our employees through this crisis.
- Eviction Protection: Enact a six (6) month moratorium on any and all rent requirements under commercial leasing agreements for small locally owned businesses (100 employees or less) and for any small locally owned businesses (100 employees or less) that are forced to cease operations due to the local, state or federally enacted restrictions or declared state of emergency, enact a moratorium of six (6) months on any and all requirements due from lease, vendor or credit agreements.
- Utility Protection: Suspend any and all utility shut offs for small locally owned businesses (100 employees or less) for a minimum of six (6) months or until the Federal government lifts the declared “State of Emergency.”
- Closure Protection: If businesses are forced to close, halt all lease, vendor and credit agreements and stop credit reporting.
- Protect Revenue: Immediately enact a six (6) month moratorium on all payroll and sales taxes for small family owned businesses (100 employees or less).
We believe that with these policies in place, we can keep our community afloat and ensure that Arizona small family owned businesses survive this pandemic and continue to thrive. We ask for your support and action prior to ending the legislative session.
We are eager and open to discuss any questions and/or concerns you may have relating to the letter. Thank you.
Arizona Small Business Owners Signed In Support