Salem Area Chamber Of Commerce: “Local business needs substantial remedies now”

Posted on November 25, 2020

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Today, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce and countless Chambers of Commerce across Oregon, is stating as clearly and plainly as possible: Local businesses need to be made whole, and they need to be able to re-open for business now.

The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce comes to this conclusion by way of the following:

  1. Our businesses have been extremely responsible to our community and to the COVID-19 guidance coming from the state. The recent adoption of the Oregon OSHA COVID-19 Standard further means that Oregon workplaces are some of the safest and most sanitary places for customers and employees to be.  Public health officials have been clear that COVID-19 is spreading in Oregon for reasons unrelated to our businesses being open.
  2. Our local businesses deserve the same consideration as the Large Corporations that have prospered due to elimination of small business competition and our government employees that have been kept whole. The shutdown of our local businesses has paved the way for corporate giants to profit in the absence of thriving local business communities.  Similarly, the Governor has made every effort to keep public employees drawing full paychecks.  We also note that even local governments continued to ratchet up property taxes with little consideration for economic impact.  The “forgotten” people in this state have been our local businesses and their employees who have been crushed by their state government and left to fend for themselves.
  3. The remedies to small business currently being offered by the State are completely inadequate. Last week’s distribution of $20 million of small business grants by Business Oregon closed after 15 minutes due to oversubscription.  Similarly, the $55 million offered this past week by Governor Brown is wholly inadequate to match the current devastation in our local business communities.  The economic damage to our local businesses and families is in the billions of dollars, not millions.
  4. Shutdowns are sending our employees into a failed state unemployment system that has a history of failing to deliver timely benefits. This is disastrous for our valued employees and completely avoidable if they were simply allowed to work and earn their paychecks.

To help give our local businesses equal consideration, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and our members across Oregon are calling for:

  1. Immediate re-opening of all Oregon businesses.
  2. Substantial remedies to our local businesses that have been forced to shut down through no fault of their own as the state has deprived these businesses and employees of their livelihoods.
  3. A $75 million Hospitality Relief fund dedicated to helping our state’s restaurants and hospitality businesses recover.
  4. A Moratorium on new or increased taxes and fees at the state and local level. Whether direct or indirect, these increase the cost of business and further deprive our businesses of cash flow.
  5. Stabilization of the commercial rental market through a short-term tax credit for property owners that are willing to waive debt for commercial tenants that are behind on rent.

The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce, are calling on Governor Brown and lawmakers to give local businesses and their employees the same consideration given to others during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Local businesses and their employees have shouldered the largest costs imposed by state government and now is the time to help them recover.

For additional information, questions, or commentary, please contact Salem Chamber CEO Tom Hoffert at tom@salemchamber.org

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