Over the last five months, my office and I have been busy working to support the health and well-being of our community through this most unprecedented time. All in our communities have been impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic in ways that we would not have imagined just a short time ago.
During the COVID-19 pandemic we have heard numerous heartbreaking stories from families, many who we know personally, who have experienced the tragic loss of loved ones, disparate impacts on their children’s education, and devastating financial losses in their businesses.
As a longtime resident of this county and a passionate advocate for the residents in the fourth district, I am proud of the efforts of our county, cities, community-based organizations and businesses to fight through this pandemic together. The County of Ventura Economic Vitality Strategic Plan initiated over three years ago helped form the community partnerships vital to our response to this pandemic.
Businesses are being provided with aid and relief through a $15 million small-business assistance grant program approved by the County Board of Supervisors and through the waiving of county fees and rate reductions to the tune of $1.65 million. I understand that the County Executive Office is working toward a goal of all businesses who have applied for assistance grants to be funded, which would mean a further infusion of millions of additional dollars to our businesses that have been so impacted by shutdowns.
I wholeheartedly support this goal and every effort the county can take to support our business community. As we find ourselves entering the sixth month of the pandemic and economic shutdown to prevent or slow the spread of the virus, I recognize that there is still much work to be done to support our small businesses that make up the foundation of our local economy.
Though not specific to Ventura County, recent nationwide statistics from the online review site Yelp show that as many as 55% of the closed businesses listed on their site are now permanently closed. Because many businesses have been forced by the state to close, reopen and then close again, it is now more than likely that these closed businesses may never reopen and more than ever before these businesses need our support; especially the smaller mom and pop businesses with fewer resources than larger businesses.
With the shutdown orders coming from the state, our government has asked these businesses to close their doors or significantly limit their operations and it is incumbent upon the state to do more to help them survive the pandemic. Our state government needs to ensure that local small business owners are not required to disproportionately bear the financial burden of the pandemic public health response.
Facing a budget shortfall of upwards of $50 billion, the state government needs to make the orders more reasonable and do more to protect businesses from being shut down and becoming another devastating casualty of the pandemic. I hope you will join me in continued further support of our local small businesses by utilizing their services and calling upon the state to take actions that will allow these small businesses to re-open.
I have always been proud of the community and county that I live in. When needed or asked, we come together to help each other. COVID-19 is real and serious. The required response is new to us. Despite that, I am confident that we will come together to help one another in this time of crisis.
Supervisor Bob Huber represents the 4th District of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, which comprise the cities and unincorporated communities of Moorpark, Simi Valley, Box Canyon, Chatsworth Peak, Home Acres, Santa Susanna Knolls, Sinaloa Lakes and Tierra Rejada Valley.
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