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$10K from town for businesses is good start, not nearly enough

The Town of Farmville is doing the right thing in providing $10,000 to the Farmville Industrial Development Authority (FIDA).

The money will be used by the FIDA to provide grants to local businesses who need support due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The $10,000 from the town is a step in the right direction, but it is not nearly enough. Hopefully this is the start, not the end of ways the town plans to support businesses as Farmville just now begins to crawl out of the deep hole the pandemic has placed us in.

Farmville’s downtown is a vital part of the culture and character of the town. Many of the downtown business models depend on crowds and foot traffic. As we move into a summer of social distancing and using hand sanitizer by the gallon, crowds will not be roaming the streets of Farmville. That will be a continuing problem for our coffee shops, retail stores and restaurants.

We did several stories last weekend about locals and visitors returning to downtown to eat, shop or get a haircut. The people we did not talk to were at home. They heeded the advice of health officials and remained isolated. It is unclear how the typical consumer is going to react to this pandemic. We have heard from several people who are waiting to see what happens before venturing out.

Another question is how much buying power does the typical consumer actually have? With more than 30 million people out of work, will people be going out to eat as regularly as in the past? Does the consumer have disposable income to make purchases they do not absolutely have to make?

There are many things about this new economy we just don’t know yet.

No one built a business model that is based on restrictions keeping them limited to half capacity after being closed for two months. While the restrictions are exactly what we need to do now to recover from this virus, the economy of the town will continue to suffer.

This money provided by the town should be used to help businesses transform their models to function in this new reality that may be with us for some time. Every business needs to move online or expand its online presence as much as possible.

The fund provided by the town is a good start, but it will take many more months and many more dollars before we know how much help our local businesses will actually need to survive.

(The views in this editorial are of The Farmville Herald editorial staff. This editorial was written by Editor Roger Watson. He can be reached at Editor@FarmvilleHerald.com or (434) 808-0622.)