Park City coronavirus downturn: ‘Who needs help? What kind of help do they need?’
A task force readying ideas to boost the Park City-area economy amid a sharp downturn as the novel coronavirus spreads recently started to meet, one of the steps taken locally to work through the current problems and plan for the community’s re-emergence.
The task force is charged with the broad topic of economic resiliency. The Park City Council and the Summit County Council hold seats alongside business organizations like the Park City Chamber/Bureau and the groups representing the lodging industry, the restaurant industry and the businesses in the Main Street core. The task force met three times between last Thursday and late this week. City Hall staffers assigned to economic-development programs are also working with the task force. It seems that some of the ideas that emerge from the task force will need to be put to a governmental body like City Hall or the County Courthouse, but the timeline is not clear as the city and the county continue to address the acute issues of the novel coronavirus.
City Councilor Max Doilney represents the other municipal elected officials on the task force, putting him in a key role less than three months after his swearing-in as a member of the City Council. Doilney is a businessman with two places at the Resort Center. Both of the stores closed March 15, he said, describing a “devastating” impact on the employees. He said the workers had planned for their employment to end at the end of the ski season, as is typically the case with numerous seasonal workers across Park City annually. Instead, they were let go four weeks earlier than anticipated.
“There’s some real angst out there. We need to be working quickly,” Doilney said about the task force, adding, “We are trying to figure out what are the most urgent needs, from an economic perspective.”
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He said the task force wants to learn what categories of people will be required to receive assistance of some sort.
“Who needs help? What kind of help do they need?” he said.
He also said a goal is “minimizing those negative economic impacts.”
He said there could be options involving funds from any federal stimulus package.
The task force was seated at a tense time in the business community with the shutdowns of Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort weeks before they were scheduled to stop turning the lifts for the ski season. Health officials also put tight restrictions on restaurants and, this week, people were ordered to stay home. There are mounting worries that the rank-and-file workers in the community will struggle financially in coming weeks and perhaps longer with the tourism industry and other sectors essentially closed.
Doilney said one of the intriguing ideas that has emerged from the task force centers on the ability to “help people look for the right source for their need.” He said the needs cover a wide range. Some businesses could require a short-term loan for a small amount, such as $2,000, but others could be seeking a longer-term loan for perhaps $250,000, he said. The task force wants to learn which businesses will be eligible for what sorts of financial assistance, he said.
“We are looking for what loans are available. Where are the holes? Who is going to get left out?” Doilney said.
He said the task force also is interested in ensuring business owners and managers are aware of the resources for those who are laid off or furloughed. One of the resources is the Christian Center of Park City, which provides food and help with basic needs, he said. Businesses and employees are “very, very anxious,” he said.
Doilney also discussed the work of the task force on Friday during a virtual Coffee with Council event, revisiting the wide range of ideas.
“The needs are all over the board,” he said.
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Park City leaders on Thursday will likely hold a special meeting to consider an idea crafted by Main Street businesses to close the street to traffic on Sundays in the summer and early fall in favor of a pedestrian zone.