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With no real stimulus coming, small business is stuck in a waiting game

by Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

UPDATED 8-8-2020: Should any of us be surprised Congress was unable to come up with a relief bill that would help US small business? The Republican led Senate basically killed negotiations so the President could declare victory by signing executive orders. The reality is Senate Republicans cannot agree themselves how much to give for a relief bill, if have one at all. At the 11th hour the Democrats proposed to simply split the difference in funding, but the Republicans were not really negotiating. The executive orders to address some areas like extending jobless benefits, but it's not even close to enough to turnaround the US economy. And these executive orders seem like an exercise in blaming the Democrats, instead of actually fixing the problem.

COVID-19 has lasted far longer than most predicted—except Dr. Fauci—and if small businesses do not get help, if American cities don't get help, the US economy is going to sink farther into the abyss. Do we really think The Claremont Club will be the last city business to fold? Claremont is already seeing the effects of months of health restrictions. But the answer is not easing those restrictions. Let's stay safe! Our economy needs strong stimulus that only a joint effort between Congress and the Trump administration can give.

Here's my Friday column:

I was away last week visiting my daughter in Lake Tahoe. Upon my return to the office Tuesday, all of us at the COURIER wanted to make changes in how we interact with the public. So we have closed the office due to coronavirus concerns. That means no more walk-in traffic until further notice.

The staff will answer phones from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, but the office will be closed Fridays through the weekend.

The best way to contact us is by email. A link on our webpage—claremont-courier.com/contact-us—will lead you to our staff directory. Need to drop off a letter or other correspondence? We have a secure mailbox next to the front door that is checked several times a day.

Like so many other businesses, our reporting staff will mostly work from home. We are fortunate that the COURIER newsroom is a large space, with plenty of room for social distancing. So we can safely produce a newspaper on our regular Thursday production day. We also remain committed to publishing the COURIER print edition, realizing that many of our subscribers prefer print when reading local news. 

With life changing so fast, who knows what the new normal will eventually look like? I continue to wonder about the long-range impact on Claremont, from a pandemic that just won’t go away.

It definitely feels like the dog days of summer as we enter our sixth month fighting COVID-19. With the majority of colleges and public schools closed for the fall, business life in Claremont is not going to return to normal anytime soon.

I don’t think I’m the only one who thought we would be headed back to business as usual by now. And with the number of college students greatly reduced this fall, it will be more difficult for Claremont’s economy to bounce back.

But I also believe that Claremont is resilient, being loaded with residents who give a damn, and who are not afraid to get involved. Once social distancing rules are relaxed, there will be an enormous explosion of business activity that will be exciting to see. The hard part will be surviving long enough to get to that point.

Right now Congress continues to work on another relief package that will impact most Americans. But they also have a month-long recess starting next week. So there’s a tight deadline and still many details to be hammered out.

There’s no question some of the businesses that received grant money under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will need more help to stay in business. Cities have also been hard hit because of big drops tax revenue. COVID-19 is raging much longer than we thought, and the government needs to step up again to avoid a meltdown of the US economy.

Of course it would help immensely if we had a president who had any sense about what to do with COVID-19. The US continues to be considered a hot spot for the world, and without any leadership from the federal government, elimination of the virus will be painfully slow. Maybe not even until a safe vaccine is developed.

I say “safe vaccine” because you never know what medical advice the president will tweet. Given that Trump says his administration is doing an “incredible” job managing the pandemic, I guess we will just wait for that vaccine.

And you better not work for the government and tell the truth about this virus. Health advisor Deborah Birx learned the hard way with her honest, accurate, yet grim assessment of the coronavirus numbers. President Trump immediately denounced her statements, although had absolutely no proof to back anything he said.

Claremont icon closes its doors

The loss of The Claremont Club really hit home for their many enthusiastic supporters. My neighbor Candice Garcia mentioned she paid $251 monthly for her family of five. What she liked about the Club was the quality daycare her three kids really enjoyed. Up to three hours daily were free.

“Where else are you going to find daycare for that price, that also does a great job managing activities for the kids?” she added.

Ms. Garcia also felt it was unusual for a city the size of Claremont, to have such a large comprehensive health club in a residential area.

“The Club offered me a balance between motherhood and self-care. The added benefit was my children loved being at the Club. Win-win!”

Personally, I’ve been a Club member off and on for the past 40 years. The facilities were always top-notch and clean, while offering a wide range of programs to the public. And some of these programs focused on senior health and fitness, too.

There was also the TCC Nonprofit Foundation that helped people recovering from cancer through exercise.

Just take a look at the Club website showing all the numerous activities, events and programs. This helps give you an idea how they impacted so many lives.

The Claremont Club created a community within the city that people enjoyed being part of. And the members were from areas other than just Claremont. That’s why we see so many supporters working to save the Club.

The property will reportedly be sold through a broker to coordinate multiple offers. We’ll have to wait and see.

Be sure to check Steven Felschundneff’s story on The Claremont Club.

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