OLDS — The president of the Olds & District Chamber of Commerce says a Town of Olds grant program rolled out for reopening businesses is a "great" start.
However, Clare Janitz is hoping council might tweak it later to enable larger businesses to benefit from it as well.
The program, approved by council during its May 25 meeting, applies only to storefront businesses and home occupations located within the town limits that have valid business licences.
The purpose of the money is to enable those businesses to improve staff safety, enable social distancing, and obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks or gloves.
Businesses with storefronts will be eligible for up to $500. Home occupations in the town will be able to receive up to $100.
The money will be available for the remainder of 2020.
“It’s kind of hard, because I mean, there’s going to be some businesses that are larger and some that are smaller that might have more requirements," Janitz said during an interview.
“And so I think $500 is kind of in the middle. It should actually get everybody going initially, and maybe be enough.”
It’s a “reasonable” amount to help businesses recover the cost of paying for things like PPE, stickers on the floor to encourage social distancing and plexiglass shields at checkouts, she said.
During a discussion on the program, Coun. Heather Ryan suggested there should also be money, perhaps up to $750 each, for “major businesses” (those with more than 25 employees).
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CAO Michael Merritt said the town had looked possibly doing something like that but it was too difficult to identify those firms.
Janitz sympathized with that problem.
“It’s really tricky. It’s like with all of the things that are being rolled out on all levels of government. They try to get it out there as quickly as possible," she said.
“And then as soon as it’s out, there’s going to be some people who fall through the cracks or it’s not enough."
However, Janitz expressed hope town officials might look at doing something for those larger businesses once the program has rolled out and they’ve had a chance to see how it’s working.
“You kind of have to start somewhere and it’s an excellent start point,” she said. “It sounds like they have a good plan and that if people get the applications in, they can quickly turn that around and get a cheque out to people, which is really great.”