Chelan & Douglas County Local Business Leaders Letter to Governor Inslee
*This letter was one component included in a packet proposal put together as a joint effort of Chelan and Douglas County Commissioners to petition Governor Insleee to allow local officials the authority to determine, based on local and regionally-specific data, the speed at which we could safely and responsibly apply the Governor's 4-phased plan. The proposal was submitted at 8:45 pm Wednesday, May 13th, and was rejected at 9:01 am Thursday, May 14.
Dear Governor Inslee,
We write this letter with tremendous respect for your office. We do not presume to know the burden of your position, especially during the Coronavirus Pandemic, and believe your decisions have not been easily or whimsically made. For that, we are very grateful for your service to our State.
As small business owners of Chelan & Douglas Counties, we are “main street.” We are essential to the fabric and well-being of our local economies and communities. And we really care about our communities. In many cases, we have cast aside other, more fruitful financial opportunities to stay local. In many cases, we have taken on undue or imprudent financial and personal risk, so as to continue to invest in our communities and our employees. We love our communities. We know faces and names. We know families and stories. We are “small town America.”
The statewide shutdown has been devastating to our local economy. We know we’re not alone in this. Millions across the nation are hurting. Nonetheless, our pain is real.
A survey recently performed by our local Chamber of Commerce regarding the impacts of
COVID-19 discovered that:
• 52% of local businesses have experienced a decline in revenue of 50% or more;
• 30% of local businesses have experienced a decline in revenue of 80% or more;
• 53% of local businesses cannot sustain operations for another 3 months; and
• 28% of local businesses are unsure how long they can even remain in operation.
These are very concerning. Many of our small businesses do not possess the capital or liquidity to sustain a continued shutdown of business activities. A loss of local businesses as identified in the aforementioned survey would be devastating and take years to rebuild. We do not possess the net population growth or local industry to quickly rebuild permanent business closures of this magnitude. And the economic devastation is just the tip of the iceberg for the social devastation that follows. This isn’t about money, this is about people’s lives; their physical, social, mental, emotional, and relational well-being.
Our counties have not experienced a similar pace or trajectory of COVID-19 infections and deaths as those counties hardest hit in our State. Additionally, we do not possess the population levels of other, hard-hit counties. We are small, rural communities. And so, we believe a case-by-case approach, in cooperation with our communities, is best and best decided at the local level.
We are a sharp-thinking, deeply caring community. We are mothers and fathers, parents and children. We are husbands and wives, grandchildren and grandparents. We are family and we are friends. We have great medical providers that faithfully serve our communities, as well as the surrounding areas. We have governing authorities with faces to their names and personally known by their citizens. Our leaders in law enforcement are approachable and kind. And, we have some of the brightest minds in business.
Perhaps the greatest thing about our communities is you don’t come here to get ahead. You come to our communities because you love the beauty, you love the people, and you love the way of life.
And so, we believe that in concert with our local governing authorities, medical professionals, law enforcement leaders, business owners, and citizens, we hold the greatest opportunity to successfully lead our communities through and beyond this pandemic. We believe that, in concert with our communities, we can develop great ideas and practices to keep people safe, while responsibly getting people back to work.
In light of this, we respectfully ask that you allow our local communities to follow your phased approach to reopen on a timeline established by our local governing authorities. We respectfully ask that the discretion given to states at this time be extended to our local communities in an effort to best respond to our unique context. We respectfully ask you to allow our counties to take hold of this great opportunity to make decisions for, and act upon, what is best for our local communities during this Coronavirus Pandemic.
Small Business Owners of Chelan & Douglas Counties