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LETTER: West Manchester should reallocate $600K for small business grants

Ron Ruman
West Manchester Township
Signs directing customers of two businesses in Colonial Square Shopping Center Friday, May 8, 2020. Bill Kalina photo

Local small businesses face the fight of their lives, ordered closed to protect public health, and having great difficulty getting promised federal loans. It’s time for local government to help.

West Manchester Township added $600,000 to its capital budget reserve this year for future building and maintenance projects. While important long-term, my belief is this money is better used short-term supporting vital local businesses; for some, perhaps making the difference between staying open, providing jobs for our neighbors, or closing forever.

West Manchester Township should, I believe, reallocate this $600,000 now, making available $3,000 grants to township-based businesses with 50 or fewer employees at all locations. This would help up to 200 small restaurants, salons, landscapers, independent retailers, and other small businesses. Hopefully, this will be recovered with federal stimulus money to municipalities.

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While $3,000 doesn’t seem like much, it would help pay salaries, utilities, rent or for supplies to help the business survive until it can re-open. I would require each business receiving a grant still be in business on Sept. 1, and employ at least 75 percent of the workers it did prior to the governor’s shutdown order, protecting small businesses and employees.

This proposal is fiscally conservative and forward planning, helping ensure businesses are here to pay taxes in the future, money we can then use to make public capital improvements without more tax hikes. More importantly, it commits local government to supporting local businesses and workers.