Main Streets will be Hit Hard by Coronavirus Response

Vision Long Island has been getting many calls over the past two weeks and talking to a number of small businesses in our downtowns concerning the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  The real experiences folks are going through range from not-great to potentially life altering.

The world has changed radically in the last two months.  At our most recent LI Main Street Alliance meeting in late January, there were updates from 20 communities that were experiencing or looking forward to investments in our downtowns and many more revitalization plans on the way.  Local businesses were functioning well even through the winter, which is always a tough time for any business.

However, with the advent of the Coronavirus, we have seen and are hearing about a 40 to 50% reduction in most restaurants, bars, and local services.  The grocery store and pharmacies may be mobbed, but the independent small businesses in your community’s business district may simply not be there or go through radical restructuring in the coming months.

Vision Long Island recognizes that the major focus of our national media coverage has correctly been the health impacts of the virus and things we can do to limit its spread.  But where it has veered into economics, the discussion of the stock market on Wall Street has dominated the conversation.  What hasn’t been discussed much, if at all, is the economic impact of shutdown efforts to real people on Main Street and what the changing situation means to them.

But the simple fact of the matter is that the bulk of our economy is centered on both residents and business owners spending money, and the supply chains that follow that.  If people aren’t visiting their local downtowns then the economy will have trouble functioning.

“I think this is going to go on for a while,” said local business owner John Murray from Kilwins in Bayshore and Patchogue, and the Hero Joint. “This isn’t like a storm where you lose two days, you don’t know how long this is going to last and it’s scary in that respect.”

We will be getting into more details in the coming days on ways that Main Street businesses can survive this crisis and what you can do to help them before any government-imposed quarantine is put in place.

Here is a story in Newsday by James Madore that spotlights this issue.