MD chambers of commerce band together to call for more federal aid
MARYLAND – More than a dozen local chambers of commerce in Maryland came together to send a letter to Washington asking for more federal help. The letter covered four areas, including legal liability protections, unemployment insurance, support for state and local governments, as well as for small businesses and non profits.
Ultimately, chambers of commerce say the message in the letter is that more federal help is needed to prevent a complete economic disaster. “Obviously we took at huge step backwards across the entire country – across the world – and so in order to recover we can’t do things the way we always did,” said Dorchester Chamber of Commerce president Bill Christopher.
Christopher says that without federal help, local economies are at risk. “If local economies start to fail and states start to fail that’s ultimately going to roll up to the feds, and we have to figure out how to make sure that states are able to survive and come out of this,” said Christopher.
Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce president Bill Chambers says businesses need liability protections, and support from state and local governments. “State and local governments provide valuable services to the business and organizational community. If those services are curtailed or cut, that will have a detrimental impact to any recovery efforts we’re having,” said Chambers.
Christopher agrees. He also says that businesses need to be able to plan ahead financially for unemployment insurance. “We need to find a way that unemployment insurance does not put these businesses out of business when they come back in, because the unemployment isn’t necessarily the business’s fault in this instance. I mean it happened as a result of a natural disaster,” said Christopher.
Chambers tells 47ABC that if something isn’t done soon, he believes businesses will feel the effects of this economic disaster for a long time to come. “There’s a sense of fear and despair even with this phased reopening that’s pervasive, not just on the lower shore but all over the state,” said Chambers.
Chambers says both the city of Salisbury and Wicomico County are rolling out additional loan and grant programs. He says those should be available to local organizations and businesses by next week. Christoper tells 47ABC that many businesses are concerned about paying back loans, and how long they can use them for. He also says chambers of commerce are working with the businesses and organizations that they serve to make sure funding is being used responsibly and efficiently.