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Dan Miller: It’s up to us

Other Voices
Dan Miller

Nevada County is now in the extended Phase 2 of reopening our economy, which allows some businesses to open if stringent restrictions are met. Until the state initiates Phase 3, other businesses must remain closed for now.

It has been a dark time for our retailers, restaurants, and personal services such as salons and gyms. They have suffered huge financial hits during the nine-week shutdown.

As a caring community, we must patronize businesses that are reopening and diligently lobby for everyone to receive the green light to reopen.

Local retailers are left wondering how significantly curbside deliveries and limited in-store retail will help the bottom line. Restaurants are trying to decide if it’s financially feasible to reopen while complying with rules mandating strict social distancing and limited seating. The California Restaurant Association polled its members, and one-third reported their restaurants may never reopen.

If we act now to support our local businesses, the next chapter we write together will be bright.

We’re all smart enough and concerned enough about our neighbors that we’re not going to reopen our economy recklessly and take unnecessary risks. It’s never going to look like spring break anywhere in Nevada County.

Yet as we reopen gradually and deliberately, local businesses desperately need our help.

Small businesses are typically the result of a vision held by local community members, usually those who possess a lot of heart and drive. I understand that desire to create something and make it successful. The downtown baby store, Future Generations, was a labor of love for my wife Roxanne and me for three decades until we retired from retail.

Our local businessmen and women are entrepreneurs. They are our friends and neighbors. They are the ones who invested their personal hopes and finances to make their dreams become reality, and in doing so, became the backbone of our community.

These are the businesses that support and donate materials and money to our nonprofits and community projects. Some of that generosity transcends decades, because so many of our locally-owned businesses have passed from one generation to another. Our community needs to repay their generosity and kindness.

Our retailers need customers. Now. They need revenue to pay the rent, pay insurance, pay for inventory on their shelves, and pay their employees. Even beyond that, our business owners need income to pay their own home mortgages or rent, pay for groceries, and so many other household expenses.

To survive the shutdown, they have been dipping into retirement accounts to cover the bills and continue to pay employees who were laid off. Our business owners are taking out home equity loans and cashing in their 401Ks. They are making huge sacrifices and as they reopen, we need to support them with our prayers, but most importantly, our patronage.

Whether you feel comfortable shopping in person where it’s allowed, eating at recently-reopened dine-in restaurants, or shopping online, now is the time to spend your dollars locally. My father used to say, “Courage is contagious.” Be as courageous as you can be within your comfort level and support our local businesses with your purchases and encouragement.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Nevada County government staff, coupled with our community’s willingness to comply with stay-at-home orders to flatten the curve, our county has moved into the latter stages of Phase 2 of reopening our economy. Hopefully, we can move through Phase 2 and into Phase 3 in a relatively short period of time.

We need our movie theaters, churches, salons, gyms, barbershops, hotels, and bars to reopen and put their employees back to work. Our local economy cannot fully reopen — and begin its recovery — until all our small business owners can open their doors.

Even after our local stores reopen, there will be more business but not business as usual. Everyone keeps talking about a “new normal.” I prefer to characterize these unprecedented times as a chapter in a book. This chapter will influence the future, but the story will continue nonetheless.

If we act now to support our local businesses, the next chapter we write together will be bright.

Dan Miller represents District 3 on the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.


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