The Economic Development and Industrial Corporation at its meeting last week discussed its role in helping businesses that have been impacted by ban on in-person operations.
EDIC member Michael B. Galasso said it is important that information about how to apply for assistance gets to small business owners.
“I’ve talked to a lot of small business owners in the past couple of weeks, and a lot of them are really hurting,” Mr. Galasso said. “I’d like us to take a more active role.”
“A lot of folks are baffled by the programs and haven’t gotten a response to the applications they have made,” Mr. Galasso said.
However, he said small business owners need more than just information right now; they need monetary support.
“This is a critical time for them, especially the restaurant owners, the hotel owners and the bed and breakfast owners,” Mr. Galasso said. “It is great to tell them about programs, but they are going to need capital now.”
He asked if the town would consider allocating the money paid by Citizens Energy to lease space at the landfill for its solar array to create a loan program for small businesses, similar to a past loan partnership with Coastal Community Capital. Selectman and EDIC member Susan L. Moran said this could be a challenge, as municipal expenses will be stretched due to the coronavirus, and the town needs to manage all its bills.
“We’re all in this together,” Ms. Moran said. “At Town Meeting, there will be discussions about whether a new fire station will be built. I know right now, there are discussions about improvements to transportation issues that have been causing a lot of folks a lot of angst. It is really a matter of getting together and looking 360, but it is well worth pursuing.”
She said the selectmen will discuss what steps can be taken to help local businesses and residents at its next meeting.
“The town is not really in the business of funding private entities in that regard, but certainly, that might be one of the fits for the EDIC, as Mike has just pointed out,” she said.
EDIC director Michael DiGiano said he is working with local organizations, including the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce, to support businesses during this pandemic. This includes the potential creation of a fund to support small businesses.
EDIC Chairman Christopher Land said the corporation can also support fundraising efforts.
“We’re still six weeks out, but I’d imagine you’ll start to see some online fundraisers and events of some sort, which we could help facilitate and support in some way,” Mr. Land said.