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Task force to request city funding to aid local businesses

Business Recovery Task Force is looking funding to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19
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Elliot Lake City Council will look at a report from Elliot Lake's Business Recovery Task Force (BRTF) aimed at helping local businesses, next Monday night at a virtual council meeting.

The session will be livestreamed on the city website and broadcast live on Eastlink Cable at 7 p.m. If council approves, how much money is yet to be determined.

BRTF is a group of organizations that assists businesses and key players in the business community. The Task Force is looking for city funding to help local businesses recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their report to council states, "Recently the province has announced that they will be reducing restrictions on businesses and have begun the process of reopening the provincial economy. While welcoming the resumption of business, many operations will be faced with the additional financial burden of reconfiguring their workplace / retail operations to conform to the social distancing regulations that are still in effect.

"The outcome of the BRTF is the creation of the Business Restart Program. It was developed to assist all local businesses and non-profit organizations as they struggle to resume operations, while meeting the requirements of the provincial and federal governments.

"The program would fund up to 50 per cent of eligible costs backdated to March 15, 2020 to a maximum of $5,000 per business for the purchase of personal protection equipment (PPE), signage, preventative measures and innovative expansions.

"The program will be managed by owners, businesses and non-profit organizations. Applications will be assessed on a case by case basis according to their needs to ensure the program is implemented in a timely manner.

"Contribution is required from partners to build the funds allocated to the program as the federal and provincial government have pledged large amounts of funding for wage subsidies and bridge financing. Cash flow funding will be required from local partners for this program. The BRTF will request funding from the City of Elliot Lake to support the local business community.

"Included in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) applicable cost categories (as compiled by the federal government) are gloves, gowns, facial protection masks, eye protection, signage, and face shields or masks with a visor.

"The businesses may require signage to post public health guidelines concerning distancing and worker safety. The fund would allow businesses to suitably post signage as needed throughout their businesses, including floor markers for social distancing to ensure their workers and clients feel safe.

"There will be preventative measures businesses will need to evaluate their workspaces to ensure that their staff and clients are safe. This may include purchasing of cubicles or plexiglass shields for workers or to create a barrier between their work stations."

As to the question of how much money the city is being asked to provide for the BRTF, ELNOS General Manager William Elliot told ElliotLakeToday, "I don’t believe there is a specific ask from council. I believe, similar to the Community Improvement Program (CIP) the expectation is that, if approved, the city will allocate some initial funding to the program, but leave the door open to topping it up if the demand warrants it. It will be up to council to decide what amount they want to launch it with (again, if the concept is approved)."