Seasonal businesses around the region have been put in a difficult position. The future is uncertain, amid the Coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown, and tourism appears as though it will trend down this year.
State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke in New York’s 58th District is calling for immediate assistance to seasonal businesses, such as wineries, local inns, and crop farmers, that face a particular crisis as the economic devastation of the coronavirus outbreak continues.
“Our seasonal businesses make virtually all of their money during a limited time of the year, and for many that time starts now,” said Danks Burke. “These entrepreneurs help make the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region the beautiful place New Yorkers love so much. The State must expedite relief to seasonal businesses so they survive this crisis and we all come out intact on the other side.”
Local seasonal businesses facing devastation by the coronavirus economic shutdown include:
– Farmers who must weigh the cost of planting now against possibly reduced farmers’ market availability this year.
– Wineries that depend on the spring, summer, and fall tasting-tour season for a year’s income.
– Local marinas and water recreational businesses.
– Inns and B&Bs reliant upon warm-weather tourism and festivals to make annual payroll.
“In some ways, the economic fallout of the pandemic will hit us harder coming at this time of year, with Watkins Glen International having to indefinitely postpone its season, and activity screeching to a halt for our many spring and summer regional festivals and concerts,” Danks Burke said.
With unemployment skyrocketing to record levels, local businesses are struggling to stay afloat and avoid laying off any more of their local employees. Danks Burke has been reaching out to small business owners across the five-county region in New York’s Southern Tier and Finger Lakes to find out what assistance is most critical at this time.
“If we don’t act now to protect the network of local entrepreneurs who, as a group, have the largest number of employees here and have dedicated years to building up their businesses, we will have to start all over again in the future,” said Danks Burke.
“I’m calling on state leaders to move faster to give our farmers and entrepreneurs the confidence that they can stay afloat through the season, with tax forgiveness, mortgage suspensions, establishing local farm and business preference in state purchasing, and pre-planning programs to bring back tourists so that — after the pandemic — we are switching back on existing businesses that were paused, not mourning vacant storefronts up and down every Main Street in the region,” Danks Burke continued.
To avoid losing seasonal businesses entirely, Danks Burke urges New York State to immediately implement:
– One full year of property tax forgiveness for any seasonal business which loses more than 25% of its annual revenue.
– 90-day suspension of mortgage or rent payments for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
– Requirement that all state and local agencies use in-state facilities for conferences and off-site events.
– In-state preference for purchasing produce for state agencies including SUNY, corrections facilities, and local schools.
– Vouchers to NYS Residents that may be used like cash at in-state tourism venues.
– One year sales tax holiday for all in-state non-chain restaurants.
“We will get through the COVID-19 pandemic with our ability to come together as a community to aid each place as it is hit by the spreading outbreak,” said Danks Burke. “We simply can’t afford to waste the resources and years of entrepreneurial investment that make our region the beautiful place we love.”
Leslie Danks Burke is an attorney and a longtime advocate for education, healthcare, and rural economic development. She is the daughter of farmers and a mother who, together with her husband, is raising two children in this community. A Democrat, she previously ran for State Senate in the 58th in 2016, out-raising O’Mara by over $200,000 and receiving more voter support from outside her party than any other challenger to a sitting incumbent that year — on either side. Since 2016, Danks Burke has remained a powerful advocate for local community engagement and honest government.