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Vermont spends $310M of CARES funds helping businesses– will Delaware?

Two months into its emergency order, Delaware has yet to reveal what help businesses may receive and how as we recover from the coronavirus, while other states are offering hope.

An upcoming episode of A Better Delaware’s livestream seriesA Better Discussionwill feature Betsy Bishop, President of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce to discuss Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s recently announced $400 million economic relief and recovery package (stay tuned on our Facebook page for an announcement of the date).

The proposal, funded by the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act, includes $310 million for immediate emergency relief to the most impacted sectors and businesses, as well as $90 million in long-term recovery investments, and offers support for Vermont businesses includes funding for financial, housing, and technical assistance.

“These ideas are the result of talking to many local employers over the last two months to identify what they need now, and what they will need on the other side of this,” said Agency of Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle.

In Delaware, we have yet to take any similar action.

State leaders requested flexibility in use of CARES funds, with no plan in place for how to use it.

In Tuesday’s episode of A Better Discussion, guest Bob Older, President of the Delaware Small Business Chamber of Commerce, expressed that when it came to Delaware’s response to the virus, “our small businesses were left in the dark.”

Older continued, saying businesses have been forced to remain closed for longer than was necessary, and much to the detriment of their operations and ability to reopen. The two month long stay at home order will force many businesses to shutter permanently.

Delaware was near last in the nation in the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program funds and offered state assistance through the H.E.L.P. loans, only to the hospitality industry, leaving many businesses helpless. State reserves, such as the $252.4 million in our Rainy Day Fund, tens of millions in the Strategic Fund, and $126.3 million from budget smoothing weren’t utilized to help either.

As we continue to wait for a phased reopening and an announcement of an economic plan, watching other states move forward with economic and business assistance feels like salt in the wound—a wound that has been left open for far too long.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only instance of Delaware lagging behind in an economic response during the virus. Other states launched business and economic task forces weeks before announcing stay at home orders, whereas Delaware’s Governor joined with other states in a task force weeks after forcing businesses to close, and has yet to proceed with a state-focused initiative.

Early on, state leaders responded to industry pleas by telling them that the health side was their only priority, and businesses would have to wait.

Two months later, and with other states pushing forward, you have to wonder: just how long are our floundering businesses and 100,000 unemployed Delawareans expected to wait for our state leaders to act?