Power of the People Amidst COVID-19
March 15, 2021 | Janie Dennison
Main Street America brings to light the impact of COVID-19 through its recent survey with particular interest dedicated to our local main street businesses. They found that despite the troubles over the past year there is much to hope for in the power of people.
Over the past year, whether you’re in a metropolis, rural suburb, or quaint town, COVID-19 has affected everyone including the people we talk with daily—from our cashier during grocery runs to the local store, our barber during our weekly haircuts, and our Saturday shopping sprees at boutiques:
“88% of small business owner respondents were concerned about the risk of permeant closure… 29% reporting they wouldn’t last beyond the next three months… 45% reporting they won’t last beyond the next six months… 51% of businesses had laid off or lost employees…net loss of 2,380 jobs” (Small Business and Main Street Program Insights, Michael Powe).
These places are bearing the burden under imposed regulations and lockdowns that have put barriers and hurdles in the way of providing what their communities need and their livelihood; including our beloved historic mom-and-pop shops or new innovative entrepreneur ventures. This has created further duress as the tools that have equipped many in both urban and rural centers to attain financial freedom, have now been pulled out from under them as a result of the pandemic:
“frustrations with changing regulations on business operations…new expenses to adapt operations…coping with reduced demand…frustration with requiring customers to abide by mask and social distancing regulations…additional credit card debt [and more financial strains] … leaning on savings [and other assets] to keep their business afloat” (Small Business and Main Street Program Insights, Michael Powe).
Then what has kept communities across Missouri afloat throughout the ongoing pandemic? Is it the hope of a promised stimulus check, I doubt it? It is the measures that small businesses and local organizations have taken to not only support their communities but to support themselves, which have been far beyond what many could imagine and have carried us this far. This exceptional strength, dedication, and collective power grows out of the resilience of people in their communities that won’t give up no matter what odds are stacked against them. They adapt to what life throws at them because their livelihood depends on it and that is the life they are used to as members and owners of working-class America. Main street programs are continually supporting their communities in lieu of government aid and help allocate the aid that is available to those who need it most:
“feeling the crisis in their own work… 63% of programs expect to have reduced budgets” “but 58% of programs expect they will try to do more with less” (Small Business and Main Street Program Insights, Michael Powe).