Oro Valley creates assistance program for local businesses

Oro Valley Safe Steps

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -It’s no secret many local businesses have been struggling—or shuttering—due to COVID-19. The Town of Oro Valley is hoping with some help from them, and the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce, fewer businesses will have to suffer.

Extra cleaning and spaced out seating are just some of the new procedures put in place at Noble Hops in Oro Valley. COVID-19 has changed a lot—for a lot of businesses.

“[It’s] creating a bunch of unforeseen costs for us,” said Jason Lucas, general manager at Noble Hops.

Having to buy more cleaning supplies that are at a higher cost right now has created a higher overhead, coupled with fewer sales.

“February, March, April and May are our busiest months, and of course February was good, and then in March we crashed,” said Suzanne Kaiser, owner, Noble Hops. “We were down about 80 percent of sales at Noble Hops.”

They are not the only one’s struggling. The Town of Oro Valley said eight businesses have permanently closed their doors since the start of the pandemic in Oro Valley. Sales tax revenue for restaurants and hotels dramatically decreased between March and June compared to 2019. Bed tax dropped from about $750,000 between March and June 2019, to about $180,000 in the same time frame in 2020.

“A lot of the industries that have been hit hardest are our retail, restaurant, bar and hospitality sectors,” said Chris Cornelison, assistant town manager, Oro Valley.

A new program called OVSafeSteps aims to help businesses during COVID-19, giving $500 for marketing, the same for PPE reimbursement and even offering one-on-one business coaching. Noble Hops has qualified for all three areas. Businesses are allowed to apply for each part of the assistance program.

“It’s been a big help,” said Lucas.

Cornelison said OVSafeSteps will help reduce stress on the healthcare system with a push for a promise from both community members and businesses to abide by public health precautions, stay in small groups and not go out if feeling sick. The other goal of the program is to help the economy, and therefore the town as a whole.

“By keeping our businesses open, we’ll continue to generate revenue and provide those services to our community,” said Cornelison.

The Town received more than $5 million in funding to alleviate the business-related impacts of COVID-19, such as regular payroll costs of public safety and public health personnel. As a result, some of the Town’s previously-allocated general funds were freed up to support other local government priorities. The Oro Valley Town Council authorized $1 million in the FY20-21 budget to support the local business community during COVID-19. Oro Valley said about 50 businesses are already interested in receiving some of the assistance.

To qualify for the help, businesses must have a current Oro Valley business license, a brick and mortar location in Oro Valley and employ less than 50 full-time employees—among other criteria. See the full list of qualifications and apply here.

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