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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Looking to 2021 and Our Recovery

The holidays are here, which means 2020 is coming to an end. Under normal circumstances, a new year would represent new beginnings and new opportunities, but as we prepare to welcome the new year, the hard truth is that many of the issues and challenges we have faced throughout 2020 will remain with us in 2021.

While we will continue to be faced with adversity in the new year, I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel if all of us continue to do our part. This includes our elected leaders doing their part as well.

It is incumbent upon our elected leaders to seriously consider what our economic recovery will look like as we work to move past this pandemic.

Several businesses have permanently shut down during the era of COVID-19, crushing our economy and leaving many people out of work. This will undoubtedly continue to worsen if we do not take a hard look at how to keep businesses open and reevaluate our suffocating policies.Still, it seems that our elected officials are continuing to punish hardworking businesses and employees. In November, the County of Los Angeles announced their decision to suspend outdoor dining for restaurants, which will inevitably kill businesses and eliminate countless jobs.While many restaurants were innovative in how they adapted during the initial closures back in April, it was clear that take-out alone was not going to keep them afloat. However, without any data suggesting that the spike in COVID-19 cases was related to restaurants, the decision was made to limit their operations.All types of businesses, not just restaurants, have been hit hard by the decisions made over the last nine months. Elected leaders have repeatedly stressed the need to help working families, but they have continued to make decisions that end up putting people out of work when their employer is no longer able to keep their doors open.

While assistance from the government can help provide limited relief, we need to reevaluate our approaches to ensure businesses and the economy thrive post-pandemic. Even before the current crisis, many businesses were already struggling to keep up with the onerous costs, rules, and regulations they were faced with.California has a number of labor laws that businesses need to adhere to. The more rules and regulations, the higher the chances are of an employer mistakenly being out of compliance. This means lawsuits and added costs. On top of all this, you have labor unions pushing new labor laws. COVID-19 intensified these challenges.See, our businesses have been fighting for years just to simply stay alive. During this time, we have called on our elected leaders to sit down and listen to employers to hear how their policies are seriously impacting them.

Throughout the pandemic, I have talked with many employers who have gone above and beyond to keep their workers and customers safe. Despite these measures being taken, businesses are still being targeted.These added rules and regulations are not the solution. We need a different approach. We need our elected leaders to be our partners to help ensure we achieve economic recovery while keeping businesses open and people employed.

The City Council, County and Legislature have a lot of work that awaits them and a few new faces to help spark some fresh ideas and perspectives. A new administration could also help provide stability for both small and large businesses, but only time will tell.

The upcoming year will be an important one for all of us. We don’t really know what to expect, but I know the business community will continue to be resilient. The livelihoods of their employees depend on it.  We look forward to sitting down with our legislators and our business leaders in 2021 to figure out how we will help our economy, undo the damage of years of bad policy, and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stuart Waldman is President of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, a business advocacy organization based in Van Nuys that represents employers in the San Fernando Valley area at the local, state and federal levels of government.

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