TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Communities need a lot to get back on their feet and Senator-Elect Mark Kelly said he’s getting to work. This morning, Kelly met with local leaders who highlighted issues they say need to be addressed immediately like small businesses and securing jobs.
“Now more than ever we need our leaders in Washington to focus on addressing this crisis. I’ve spoken to folks who have faced the impossible choice between putting food on the table, or paying for rent, or filling a prescription,” Kelly said.
Kelly made it clear throughout his campaign that improving the economy is one of his top priorities.
“We got 440,000 Arizonans that are trying to get by on 240 dollars a week on unemployment benefits. That does not work for anybody and it’s time we change that,” he added.
With Pandemic Unemployment Assistance ending for millions of people on December 26, local leaders are asking Kelly to step it up.
“We need a jobs bills a lot of people who have been displaced by COVID, those jobs are never coming back. We need to acknowledge that and start working now on how to get those individuals retrained,” said Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans.
Evans is not only asking Kelly to secure employment in the state, she’s asking for broadband in rural areas too.
“It’s not necessarily that people cannot afford internet. It’s the fact that there is no cable for internet. That ties into jobs, into schools, and businesses,” Evans said.
Leaders are also asking for help on behalf of 550,000 smalls businesses in the state currently hurting due to the pandemic. Officials said tourism is down 65 percent.
“The paycheck protection program provided a life boat for a period of time. The air is going out of that lifeboat and a lot of those small businesses will not be able to keep going. The focus needs to be on how do we maintain those jobs in addition to adding to the paycheck in the long term,” said Neil Giuliano, President/CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership.
Kelly assured he’ll help and support small businesses survive as they struggle to stay afloat.
“I’ve already started reaching out to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and talking about some of these issues that affect Arizona and our country,” said Kelly.
Kelly hasn’t been sworn in yet, but promises to get to work as soon as he gets to the Senate in two weeks.