The coronavirus is causing unprecedented challenges both socially and economically. Governments at every level must get creative to support residents and businesses, and to avoid total economic collapse.
Recently, Gov. Ducey ordered the closure of bars, fitness centers, gyms, movie theaters, restaurants and schools in an effort to help encourage social distancing.
In addition, the Arizona National Guard will now be on-site at grocery stores and food banks to help with restocking and food distribution.
At the Arizona State Capitol this week, lawmakers approved $50 million to assist with housing and mortgage costs, homelessness, and funding for small businesses affected by both forced and voluntary closures.
As I write this, I know that more will change in the coming days.
The time is now for Scottsdale’s leadership to get equally creative and pivot towards fiscal and social responsibility. Our economy is heavily reliant on the hardest hit industries tied directly to tourism, and while the correct and responsible decisions have been made to cancel or reschedule major events, the losses can be, and in some cases will be devastating.
Another gigantic and long-term consequence is the strain this pandemic will have on real estate and future development.
Governments locally and nationally are getting creative with ways to assist people as daily life unravels before our eyes. While some businesses are fortunate enough to be able to continue paying their employees after having no choice but to send them home, some do not have this luxury.
The economic forecast is not a promising one, and while we can be confident that Scottsdale and our business community will recover, the fallout from the coronavirus is nothing short of catastrophic in the short term.
Earlier this month, the Scottsdale City Council approved $1.21 million in partnership with the NFL to market the 2023 Super Bowl. At the time, this was undoubtedly a worthwhile investment based on past performance.
However, as we all now know, circumstances change drastically and daily during a pandemic.
Three years from now, the Super Bowl will have a significant economic impact on our economy, even without Scottsdale’s participation in this regional effort.
My wife Debbie and I are small business owners and we understand the consequences of lost income during these tough times and the subsequent financial devastation to businesses.
The recent shuttering of businesses is one-sided. Business expenses are ongoing, forcing the continuance of outgoing financial commitments such as bank loans, leases and other expenses. This one-sided strategy is draining reserves or shutting down businesses entirely.
Currently, banks, creditors and other exempt businesses are getting preferential treatment and are allowed to remain open, while many small businesses are forced to close but are still required to pay expenses without being able to generate income.
How can we help businesses during this unforeseen crisis? A static financial freeze on everything, or emergency funding. This will soften the blow on businesses and help them get back on their feet faster when the pandemic passes. A primary recovery goal is to get businesses up and running as soon as possible when we are able.
On the positive side, a sense of unity and teamwork has saturated social media and communities across the country. While some businesses close their physical doors, virtual ones open theirs to help people adjust to remote work, find employment, educate others, and support parents who find themselves suddenly playing the role of teacher to their children.
People are working together and learning how to weather this storm as a team.
Despite the chaos, the American can-do spirit is the silver lining. We are leaders in this fight with our powerful medical presence in Scottsdale. This event is a reset for all of us.
I have no doubt that with proactive, collaborative and creative leadership, and the incredible assemblage of raw talent in our private sector, we will climb back to the top. With the teamwork of all the people who make this place a resilient city like no other, Scottsdale will emerge stronger than ever.
Editor’s Note: Bill Crawford is a community leader, small business owner and candidate for Scottsdale City Council.