As Ohio businesses are given the green light to open, the gravitas of the economic impact resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak will begin to truly take shape. Recently, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners announced the creation of the Delaware County Recovery Advisory Team to help mitigate that impact by assisting local businesses in their reopening.
“We are fortunate to have three forward-thinking county commissioners,” Delaware County Finance Authority Chairman Bill Bishop said in a press release. “Commissioners Jeff Benton, Gary Merrell, and Barb Lewis created the Delaware County Recovery Advisory Team with the understanding that we need something in place to strategically assist one of our most important partners – the business community.”
The advisory team members include Bishop, former Congressman Pat Tiberi, Congressman Troy Balderson, state Rep. Rick Carfagna, Delaware County treasurer candidate Don Rankey, attorney and chairman of the county Republican party Steve Cuckler, Delaware County Administrator Michael Frommer, and Delaware County Economic Development Director Bob Lamb.
Bishop and Frommer are serving as co-chairman of the team, while Cuckler serves as chair of the property tax extension committee, and Rankey serves as chair of the revolving loan fund.
The property tax extension, which was granted this week, pushes back the due date of property taxes for businesses to Aug. 20.
“The reason for that is to try to keep as much capital in individuals’ and businesses’ hands as possible as they try to navigate these next couple of months,” Lamb told The Gazette.
In addition to the property tax extension, the team is submitting a resolution to the county commissioners today that, if approved, would create a revolving loan fund to give business owners another source of relief.
Lamb said of the revolving loan fund, “We are trying to pull money from a variety of different local governments, as well as state entities, and those funds will be available to businesses within the community for loans to help them restart, reopen, or make it through the next few months since they’ve seen a significant loss in capital.”
Asked to assess the current state of the local economy, Lamb said the economy normally lags a month or so, making it difficult to properly assess the situation at this time. He said the summer months will present a better picture of just where the economy stands.
Lamb added, “What I will say is we’ve seen a lot of businesses close down or furlough staff, and that has ripple effects out into the community. And we’re going to be dealing with this very much through summer, fall, and into 2021.”
Of course, the reality is that even with measures such as those being taken by the advisory team, not all businesses can be saved. While Lamb said he believes many will benefit from these programs, he added, “no matter what we were to do or not do, there are going to be businesses that are not able to reopen.”
As for particular guidelines to which businesses the programs are geared towards, Lamb said they are “looking at established businesses mostly in professional, service, retail, hospitality, and technology-type fields. Really the core industries for the county, as well as the retail, restaurant, and hospitality businesses.”
Lamb went on to say the county commissioners have already been able to redirect approximately $90,000 to United Way for a program that allows residents to receive $500 towards rent and utility needs.
The push to jumpstart Delaware’s economy doesn’t end there. The Delaware County Finance Authority, the Delaware County Office of Economic Development, Destination Delaware, and Main Street Delaware have come together to form an ad-hoc committee to assist with businesses reopening.
“We have all the necessary components – engaged elected leaders who understand the hardships that have been placed on our businesses and residents, civic-minded business owners, citizens who care deeply about our communities and county, and businesses that are champing at the bit to reopen and welcome back their customers,” Bishop said in the press release.
Operating under a theme of “Lift each other up,” Lamb said the partnership effort will promote a “shop local program” and will include internet video and radio ads promoting businesses as they reopen. He said the groups are also looking into ways for businesses to receive the cleaning supplies needed to reopen, and Destination Delaware has developed one-day itineraries as the warmer weather arrives for good to encourage community members to visit parks and then restaurants or shops.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.