More than $50 million will come to the City of Redding and County of Shasta collectively from the US Treasury Department through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). In addition to addressing budget shortfalls in our local governments, paying for essential workers, and investing in infrastructure, funds should also be dedicated to support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses.
Overall, the leading economic indicators paint a rosy picture about the state of commerce and the economy across Shasta County. Sales tax, property tax, TOT(hotel tax), are all exceeding budgeted projections. The county’s unemployment rate is practically at pre-pandemic levels, and has been lower than the state average every single month since April of 2020.
However, to assume that all businesses are doing well would be a false assumption. Additionally, to assume that if a business is not doing well in this market that they must not be a viable business, or it is somehow their fault, would also be off the mark. The “K-shaped” recovery is playing out in our local business community as it is across the country, meaning that while some have done well over the past two years, others have not, and mostly due to workforce, inflation, supply chain, taking on debt to survive, and legislative hurdles.
According to early results of our February Business Confidence Survey, 1 in 4 local businesses report the need for financial assistance as a result of the ongoing adverse impacts of the pandemic. Here are a few examples from conversations I’ve had with some of you:
Local Jewelry Store: “We are used to replacing watch batteries for customers as a key part of our business. Due to supply chain issues, we can’t source batteries and our business is down.”
Local Restaurant: “The rising cost of food, ingredients, and restaurant supplies, has been steeper than our ability to raise our prices. We are paying our employees more as well to try to keep them with us.”
Local Physical Therapy Office: “Our challenge is workforce. We are having to pay more to get travelling physical therapists to work for us to help care for our patients. We’ve had to take out a loan to try to survive until we (hopefully) receive an employee retention credit, which has been delayed by the IRS backlog.”
Local Barbershop: “We were told to shut down to ‘flatten the curve’. I am a rule follower so I closed my shop. My belief is that many of my customers found another place (that did not close) to get their haircut, because more than 50% of my customers haven’t returned.”
From what we are hearing, it sounds like March 15th will be a big opportunity for the Shasta County Board of Supervisors and Redding City Council to decide whether or not to dedicate some of the ARPA funds to help local businesses. We ask those of you who are in need of funding to help us make the case for support by showing up to the meetings that day. The supervisors meeting begins at 9:00 a.m., the city council commences at 6:00 p.m. Another approach, a distant second, but still of value, would be for you to send an email to our local elected officials describing your circumstances. For Redding City Council, please click HERE. For the County Board of Supervisors, please click HERE.
I will also attend those meetings and speak on behalf of local businesses. Like the soothsayer said in Julius Caesar, “Beware of the Ides of March!”, as what is decided that day could mean life or death for many Shasta County businesses.
President & CEO