I can hardly believe it is already December. I’ve spent a lot of time this week reflecting on what we have accomplished in 2020 and planning for 2021. Comparing our plan from last December to what we achieved this year is almost comical. Many of our priorities, obviously, shifted but the sheer amount of work we completed was impressive given reduced staffing and funding, remote work and plenty of outside-of-work stressors staring us down.
I will share more of what we were all able to accomplish together, as a business community, in the coming weeks. For now, here is a quick note on a few things we are focused on (see below for more on these topics):
A bit more on a couple of these things…
We have heard rumors of a potential special session being called at the state to discuss additional support and relief in light of COVID-19. We are currently working with local restaurant owners and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association on a few priority policies we hope they will consider: legislation that would allow restaurants to serve “to go” cocktails, and legislation that would temporarily cap fees that can be charged by third party food delivery companies. We have heard from our restaurant industry that these two items would substantially assist in reducing the burden caused by shut down orders.
Additionally, we are tracking closely the budget conversation that will play out in the 2021 legislative session. This past week, Governor Brown released her budget proposal which included $300 million in new tax revenue and a roughly 8% increase in spending. While we have a trusted process for reviewing policies and taking positions on behalf of the chamber, I can say that we have heard loud and clear from our members that now is not the time for new taxes on our struggling businesses. We will be working closely with statewide business advocates to push for cost containment and cutting of expenses as our baseline for any shortfall. Any specific tax policies will be vetted carefully before we take an official position.
We have enjoyed meeting with several of our chamber “Legacy Investors” and interested parties about the work of the Eugene Chamber and getting to know their priorities for 2021. Legacy Investors are those companies who have generously gone above and beyond their membership investment to provide an additional investment in the strategic work of the chamber. Those investors are recognized year-round for their commitment and are given unique opportunities to get their business message out to our broader membership. We are incredibly grateful for the continued financial support and involvement of these incredible members.
At the same time, Matt Sayre, our managing director for our newly launched economic development 501c3 and I have been meeting with key business leaders about the work of Onward Eugene. Onward is focused on work in four areas: regional marketing & business recruitment, business retention and expansion, supporting startup businesses, and talent & leadership development. If you are interested in meeting with us about this strategic work and getting to know more about Onward Eugene or our Legacy Investor opportunities, please let me know and we are happy to schedule a brief zoom chat!
Today the Governor announced in a press conference that she anticipates the first round of vaccines being delivered to Oregon by December 15th. Of course, we know it will be a limited supply accessible to our healthcare workers first, but I couldn’t help but sigh a little bit in relief that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
I hope you all are staying healthy.