Senator talks help for businesses

STEUBENVILLE — Scaffidi’s Restaurant and Tavern Thursday became the latest business visited by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown as part of a statewide tour promoting awareness of aid available to them through the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan.

Brown, D-Ohio, said the president’s economic relief plan, which he helped write, will spread federal aid among businesses of all sizes, adding he believes the CARES Act, while helpful to various businesses and others, favored larger industries.

“Everybody was hurt (by the pandemic), but the big guys always recover faster,” he said.

DiCarlantonio, director of the local eatery, said aid through the Paycheck Protection Program and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan established through the plan have helped his business to recoup losses sustained during the pandemic.

He added the PPP enabled him to bring back staff who weren’t needed when the restaurant was limited to take-out orders.

DiCarlantonio said he recently applied for a grant from the federal Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

The grants may be used for payroll, rent and certain other expenses incurred while experiencing a loss of revenue spurred by the pandemic.

DiCarlantonio noted the program addresses losses in the months that followed, when seating in dining establishments was limited by social distancing requirements, and many were still reluctant to gather near others.

Some business owners have complained they lack staff because employees receive a larger check for unemployment than they would if they returned to work.

Brown said there are some abusing the system, though the law requires those receiving unemployment compensation to seek work.

But he said there also are many women staying home because they lack access to affordable, quality daycare for their young children.

Brown said President Biden’s plan for universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds will lessen the problem.

But he said the state hasn’t raised its minimum wage in 10 years and sorely needs to do so because many of its citizens rely on it to support their families.

Brown said aside from aiding businesses impacted by COVID-19, “the most important thing we can do for local economies and businesses is to get people vaccinated. The more Ohioans who get vaccinated, the more businesses can reopen and bolster the community.”

Asked if Ohio may offer financial incentives to those who are vaccinated, Brown said, “I think we’re going to do what we have to do.”

But he added he hopes educating citizens about COVID-19 vaccines will be sufficient.

Brown said that task is hindered by unreliable information sources that attempt to instill fear of the vaccines.

DiCarlantonio said a recent increase in business signifies hope for the future.

He said orders for the restaurant’s catering service particularly have risen. He attributed that to many people, following vaccinations and a downturn in COVID-19 cases, wanting to gather again with loved ones.

“The demand we’re seeing is kind of like two years in one,” DiCarlantonio said.


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