Over the course of the pandemic, more than 150 businesses have reached out to the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce in need of COVID related assistance. For Chamber of Commerce President Debbi Moore, it’s a heartbreaking sign of the times.
“They're just trying to go from day to day, keep the lights on, keep employees employed,” Moore said. “Are we working at home more? Yes. Are we navigating new waters? Yes. Do we know what the end is? No.”
Moore is in favor of additional government aid to help support local business. She stressed no matter what political party is in office, officials have a responsibility to step in.
“We certainly hope no matter who is president, and under their leadership, we continue looking at opportunities to fund them and assist in businesses growth and development as they navigate and can pivot out of this, be safe,” Moore said. “And the Chamber's goal, no matter who is elected, is to responsibly keep Las Cruces safe and open, and that's where we stand, no matter who is elected in what positions.”
Moore says state and federal elected officials should make sure businesses are getting access to both funding and educational tools. She says many businesses cannot wait until President-Elect Biden is sworn into office, calling for federal aid by the end of the year.
“It cannot wait. I mean, I am hoping before the end of December, we have a new financial package,” Moore said. “Yes, many businesses are struggling, and that is not going to end between now and December. So my hope would be on the federal level, certainly they pass a new package. On the state level, I'm hoping that as we go into the 2021 legislative session, that they will extend or adapt, or however they define it, the loan process that they approved during a special session, maybe extend it longer, and move forward.”
Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales says one of the first things that needs to be done in the 2021 legislative session is to make assistance more accessible to businesses in need.
“We passed a $400 million assistance for businesses. I mean, it was at a 1% loan just because of the anti-donation clause, it had to be through a loan.” Morales said. “But that didn't work out exactly the way we had envisioned it because there's only been 20 million or so extended from that. There has to be some adjustments made and making sure that we can do it in a way to make those dollars get out to the communities, to the small businesses who need it. And right now, because of the stringent approach to that language in the bill, it's made it hard to access those dollars.”
Morales has had the opportunity to listen to the concerns of small business owners, something he says has been extremely helpful in understanding the challenges they have faced during the pandemic as well as the best way to approach solutions. He hopes businesses continue to reach out to government officials.
“My message to them would be to continually reach out, continually have those discussions with us and the ideas of what we can do,” Morales said. “And you know, it is a challenging time, because when we see our numbers that are continually skyrocketing, there's always a concern of what's going to happen with small businesses. And we want to make sure that we hear from them.”
Debbi Moore says the challenge for businesses will be figuring out their new rhythm in a post pandemic landscape.
“It's not going to be magically disappearing either after the election, or January 1, 2021,” Moore said. “And I'm thinking it's going to be two to three years before we really get into the new rhythm.”