By editorial board • 

Leave with the one who brought you

It’s hard to imagine a virus migrating from bats to other animals to humans in Wuhan, China, managing to bring global commerce to a virtual halt in a matter of weeks. But that’s the reality we are living with today.

Nothing is exempt, from global retailers like Nike and global attractions like Disneyland to the restaurants, bars, shops, inns, cafes, brew pubs and tasting rooms of downtown McMinnville. When McMenamins Hotel Oregon closes its doors, you know everyone is hurting.

Even on the national-international level, tourism and the associated restaurant, beverage, lodging and travel industries are probably taking the hardest hit. But the giants at the top are much better able to endure the pain than the kind of mom-and-pop operations dominating Third Street. If we can’t find ways to help them through this crisis, our community risks losing its signature asset.

That’s also true for a broad array of other brick and mortar retailers serving our community. They are doing everything possible to protect our health and that of their workers. We should return the favor by doing what we can to protect their economic health.

First, we should continue to shop local at every opportunity. There’s an old saying, “Leave with the one who brought you,” and for us, that’s our core group of local providers.

When closures make that impossible right now, consider delaying discretionary purchases and buying gift cards for future use. No gesture is too small to count.

We should also support legislation and programs at the state and federal levels to provide some measure of relief for the nation’s small business backbone.

Amazon is going to weather this crisis without us. But local shops lack the deep pockets of the online retailing colossus.

When Gov. Kate Brown moved earlier this week to order closure of Oregon’s bars and restaurants, she was actually doing them a favor. In fact, more than 150 proprietors banded together in pressing for such action, necessary for collecting on commercial loss-of-business insurance.

Some restaurants are still offering takeout fare, but news accounts suggest they are having a hard time generating enough volume. With health officials making social distancing their mantra, people are, understandably, tending to hole up at home.

The federal Small Business Administration is beginning to make low-interest loans available to help businesses battered by the crushing loss of trade. Locally, McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce and McMinnville Economic Development Partnership are helping with documentation and filing of information needed to help make those loans available in Oregon.

But that’s not going to be nearly enough. The Oregon Legislature and U.S. Congress need to follow through with programs that help small businesses survive the financial crisis, without the normal complexities and red tape that define most government assistance programs.

 

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