With many local businesses being forced to alter how they provide their services, and sit-down eating establishments being ordered by Gov. Kim Reynolds to curtail food sales unless done either as drive-thru or pick-up only, the phrase “business as usual” is going to sound exceptionally sweet to Cascade business owners whenever they get to hear it again.
However, unlocking the doors and turning the lights back on will only signal a return to being able to conduct normal business, not necessarily to sustain it.
Temporary business closures affect everyone, and the trickle-down effect can devastate the economy of a small town.
While Cascade residents may feel powerless until the pandemic runs its course, there are things that can be done now, and later, to help the town’s business landscape maintain as much of its present appearance as possible.
Kaitlyn Wolfe, director of the Cascade Area Chamber of Commerce, explained, “When a business is closed for an undetermined length of time, it reduces or completely stops revenue. Unfortunately, business expenses remain including payroll, rent/mortgage payments, insurance, production costs, equipment expenses, marketing expenses and more.”
Because of this, Wolfe said business owners are facing difficult decisions that directly impact their businesses’ futures. Local small business owners will face tough decisions including modifying their business plans, laying off employees and even the possibility of having to close their doors if the present situation continues.
“Some of our local small businesses may never recover without significant community support in the coming months,” said Wolfe.
Part of the overall solution lies in educating both the business owners and the town residents who want to know how to best support them.
“The number one, best thing we can do to support our local businesses is to continue to shop with them as much as possible,” Wolfe said. “I know we’re all scared, but try to avoid the urge to quit spending, to cancel your hair appointments or your lawn service, or to tip less generously. Buy a gift card or begin a home improvement project while we’re all spending more time at home.”
She also said if a person is currently laid off and unable to spend, he or she can still leave a positive review or share marketing posts. “Even a message of support will be appreciated by our local business owner,” Wolfe said.
As for what business owners can do, Wolfe said the best resources are those directly from the applicable government organizations. These include:
• For unemployment information — Iowa Workforce Development https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/ or reach the Dubuque Iowa Works Office at 563-556-5800 or 866-227-9874
• Disaster Assistance for Businesses — Small Business Administration — sba.gov or inquire about disaster assistance via phone at 800-659-2955
• For factual information related to the virus — Iowa Department of Public Health — https://idph.iowa.gov/ or via phone at (515) 281-7689
• For updates on Iowa closures and restrictions— https://governor.iowa.gov/newsroom
Finally, for updates on additional disaster assistance, forgivable loans, or grant opportunities, check with your local Chamber of Commerce. “I’m actively researching opportunities that may help our local business owners and will continue to share them with our Chamber members as they become available,” said Wolfe. “I’ll be researching these opportunities and including them in our monthly member newsletter so our Cascade area businesses have access to the information that will help them make it through this unprecedented time successfully.”