GUEST COLUMN: Helping Our Local Economy Cope with COVID-19

Modified: May 8, 2020 11:22am

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We know that the coronavirus outbreak is an enormous public health risk to every member of our community. That is why we have been working so hard these past two months to reduce the spread of this deadly virus and protect our vulnerable populations. In addition to the personal health hazards, this pandemic has brought significant economic hardship to individuals, families, and businesses. Having been in contact with business leaders across Erie County, I know that many are looking for support to make up for the losses that came as a result of mandatory shutdowns.

As such, my Administration created the Erie County COVID-19 Business Task Force. It is made up of representatives from local businesses, government agencies, and community organizations. The Task Force has already established several initiatives to provide immediate and long-term assistance to businesses of every size and address their workforce needs.

For example, in partnership with the Task Force, the Erie County Office of Agriculture has developed the “Erie Grown” website to promote the purchase of local and regional farm products by linking consumers with available local food products, support farmers navigating the pandemic and provide a resource hub for consumers and growers. The Agricultural sector is a vital part of our region’s economy and they have been hit hard by the pandemic with low prices, disrupted supply chains, and diminished restaurant business. At, growers can apply to be included in our list of providers. We also have a Farm Locator Map of local farms open for business, in addition to a Fresh Produce Finder and much more. Remember to buy local and support our farmers.

The Task Force also created a Vendor list with contact information to link businesses with suppliers of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, gowns, and other PPE. This is available on our website under the “businesses” tab.

Working with our Task Force, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership commissioned a survey to collect data from businesses that were affected by COVID-19 to inform the Task Force’s actions moving forward. The results were released earlier this month. You can learn more by visiting

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency is offering assistance to Erie County businesses in the form of sales tax abatements, and disaster relief business loans. To see if you qualify you can visit: or call 716-856-6525.

Finally, the Small Business Administration has several loan programs available, guidance for businesses looking for federal economic help, and plenty of other disaster relief assistance resources on their website: The SBA also has a local office that can be reached by calling 716-551-4301.

The response to COVID-19 has caused ripple effects through every single facet of our lives. The local businesses that help make Erie County the great place that it is; have suffered as a result of the necessary shutdowns. That is why we created this Task Force—to employ every resource at our disposal to support businesses through this challenging time.