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CONGRESS MUST ACT ON NEW SMALL BUSINESS AID

2020 continues to be a challenging year for our communities, the economy and our families as we manage through a surge of COVID-19. For small businesses it has been an especially demanding year. Yet, we are heartened by the amazing stories of resilience and success and creativity all around Chautauqua County.

Our business community has stepped up to tackle challenges head-on. We have seen long-time businesses re-tool to offer services in new ways. We have seen employers and employees working together to solve problems and put customers first. We have also seen several brand-new small businesses open for the first time – overcoming a variety of hurdles along the way. None of this is easy.

While perseverance is undeniably important in the fight for business survival, so is assistance. We have gone many months now with no new government intervention as our small business community continues to struggle. Packages have been proposed, including a bipartisan option outlined by the House Problem Solvers Caucus and announced this past week by Congressman Tom Reed. Yet there still is no agreement or forward movement from the Senate on a plan that would provide additional much-needed help.

It is long past time for all of Congress to act on additional emergency aid for small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs need continued funding and support.

SBA OFFERS BEST PRACTICES FOR PPP LOAN FORGIVENESS

The US Small Business Administration office in Buffalo and the Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College will hold an online session Dec. 15 to help businesses prepare to apply for PPP Loan forgiveness. For those businesses and non-profits that were fortunate enough to get funding under the Paycheck Protection Program earlier this year, a process has been outlined now to help you apply for loan forgiveness. There will also be a discussion on key ways small businesses can use Economic Injury Disaster Loan funds.

This event will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, Dec. 15 from 10-11 a.m. Registration is required. For a link and more information, contact the SBDC at (716) 338-1024.

SHOPLOCALCHQ SUPPORTS SMALL LOCAL BUSINESSES

Now you can buy online and still support small locally owned businesses. The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce recently launched ShopLocalCHQ – a new online marketplace that features more than 55 local businesses offering a wide variety of more than 300 products and services. This new tool provides a safe and convenient way for shoppers to purchase unique and special gifts directly from small businesses.

New businesses and products are being added to the marketplace often, so we encourage shoppers to check for changes.

As part of the launch of ShopLocalCHQ, the Chamber of Commerce is giving away $500 in Chamber gift cards that can be used on the marketplace. Visit the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page to enter the contest. No purchase is required.

Shop Safe. Shop Small. Shop Local. Visit ShopLocalCHQ.com. Please support our locally owned small businesses during the holiday gifting season and all year round.

PRACTICE HEALTHY ROUTINES THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

It remains crucial that we all work to maintain our own health and the health of our families this season. As the coronavirus caseload continues to climb nationwide and throughout Western New York, it is imperative that we all do our part to keep our local business community open and thriving. A strong economy requires a healthy workforce and healthy customers.

We have reminded all businesses, and will continue to remind the general public, that the increase in COVID spread is very troubling and could mean additional restrictions. No one wants that. We are seeing increased restrictions all around us now, both in Pennsylvania and in Erie County, N.Y. where the Yellow and Orange Zone designations remain in place. Hospital space is now in short supply in many areas. New York State is monitoring data daily, identifying the areas of concern, and are now implementing a cluster zone approach in an effort to control the virus.

Each of us carries a personal responsibility to do our part. Please wear a face covering in public to cover your nose and mouth, stay socially distant from others who are not in your immediate household, and use hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently. The science is clear, and recent directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ask that people avoid holiday travel and holiday celebrations with those outside of your immediate household. Only by working together can we get through this unsettling time and keep our families, schools, and businesses intact. Thank you for doing your part.

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