Support & Strengthen Small Businesses
The city will need to step up in a mighty way to help our small businesses survive the pandemic and set them up to thrive after recovery.
What the City of Maryville could do to support small businesses:
Create a Small Business Community Recovery Task Force
City leaders, community sector leaders, and local banks would develop a multi-phased plan based on levels of the pandemic’s progression and identify ways to respond to the evolving needs of small businesses. Tactics could include:
- Listening tours, Virtual forums
- Identifying local solutions for financial support
- Launching a city marketing campaign(s) with a free online directory to promote locally-owned businesses (Chamber membership not required.)
- Helping business owners expand revenue through technology. This would include connecting restaurants to applications like Uber Eats and Grubhub and helping retailers connect to online platforms like eBay and ETSY to expand their local business to a larger national market at little to no cost.
- Offering training and assistance with crowdsource funding and virtual tip jars.
Provide businesses with online COVID-19-related resources and local success stories.
Reduce Regulations & Eliminate First-Time Fines
Regulatory complexity is death by a thousand cuts to small businesses. I propose that City Council review the most common and the most costly violations with public health officials and environmental experts, then identify regulatory requirements that could be safely waived temporarily or permanently lifted as a way to provide financial relief to small businesses. The city should also eliminate fines for first-time violations. Let’s roll up our sleeves and do the work to help our small businesses survive the pandemic.
Open a Small Business Office
I believe the City of Maryville should establish a full-time position to support and serve as a resource to locally-owned businesses. Not only would they guide small businesses through local permitting requirements and serve as a liaison to city officials, their work would include:
- Pursuing outside funding sources, including grants and stabilization funds.
- Connecting small businesses to federal resources.
- Ensuring that locally-owned businesses receive RFP alerts so they have the opportunity to bid on city contracts.
- Assisting business communities with the development of associations.
Reorient Economic Development Incentives
Incentives should not disproportionately favor big companies. Instead of giving public dollars to big businesses, I believe cities should redirect these resources to foster citizen-owned business growth.
Give Preference to Local Businesses in Purchasing
Maryville should establish a preference for locally owned businesses in city purchasing, and include clear definitions, goal-setting, and reporting to ensure that our purchasing doubles as economic development.
Create a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program
This will help businesses owned by people of color and women bid on, and win city contracts.