Our Opinion: Let’s do our part to support our local businesses

We need our economy, our businesses, to stay solvent so when the pandemic is finally over, they can come back strong quickly.


For at least the next few weeks but perhaps longer, Minnesotans need to perform a COVID-19 balancing act.

On one side, we need to continue following the practices from medical health professionals -- limit gatherings, practice social distancing, wear face masks and wash hands -- to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 cases.

Related: Our Opinion: It’s well past time to start taking COVID-19 more seriously We need to be willing to make sacrifices for our community, for the greater good. That’s the patriotic thing to do.
On the other side, we need to continue supporting our local businesses feeling the financial pain brought on by Gov. Tim Walz’s Nov. 20 temporary order shutting down bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and fitness clubs for four weeks.

Both sides of this balancing act are, as this board has said before, a necessary sacrifice to get us back to something closer to our normal lives before COVID-19.

However, that doesn’t mean our local businesses, especially those that have been shuttered by the latest order, should unduly suffer financially for something out of their control. In fact, anything that can prudently be done should be done to help businesses make it through the pandemic.


On the local level, we applaud the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce for its Cuisine Cash program, which allows people to purchase a $25 gift card for $20 to use at participating local restaurants, bars and breweries closed by the latest shutdown.

The success of that program, which is a partnership between the Brainerd, Crosslake, Cuyuna, Nisswa and Pequot Lakes chambers, is evident. An astounding $40,000 was sold in the first five days of the program.

And that support shouldn’t just stop there. We’d encourage area residents to continue to shop local this holiday season and beyond, whether that be ordering takeout at a local restaurant or shopping at local stores. Our economy will be stronger for it.

The Brainerd lakes area is doing it right, and it would appear our state government is heading in that direction, too. Walz recently outlined an economic relief package aimed at helping those businesses and families affected by the latest shutdown order. While negotiations still need to happen, both Republicans and Democrats in the Minnesota Legislature have also signaled a desire to offer economic relief to Minnesotans.

Related: Our Opinion: Our health and economy depend on us wearing masks
On the federal level there appears to be work yet to do. While a second round of relief funding has been under discussion for quite some time, at times falling victim to partisanship, Democrats and some Republicans on Thursday expressed interest in a $908 billion package as a starting point for negotiations, so at least there’s been progress in the right direction. Anything less than agreement by Congress should be viewed as an abject failure.

Whatever state or federal aid is offered, we also hope its disbursement is handled at a local level, much like the CARES Act. Our local areas know their own needs best.

Our businesses are the economic engine that runs our local economy, and we don’t need them to stall at this point. There needs to be a balance between shutting down certain segments for health reasons without causing irreparable damage to our economy. We need our economy, our businesses, to stay solvent so when the pandemic is finally over, they can come back strong quickly.

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