Your local small businesses need you more today than ever.

As COVID-19 creates a massive disruption in both the world and national economies, please take care of your local businesses. Your financial support during this window may be the difference between life and death for many of your favorite businesses that make your community so special. Yes, conditions could quickly become that dire for many.

Big corporations have ready access to large amounts of capital and other funds to help them manage through extended periods of crisis. Small, locally owned and operated businesses, not so much. Many small businesses operate on what is called a short-term burn rate — or the time (measured in days, weeks or months) a business can run before exhausting its reserves.

Operating while losing money short term is one thing; fully depleting a business’ operating reserves is another. Operating at a loss can only be temporary as an extended run draws down the funds needed to pay employees, rent and for suppliers. And in the end, unfortunately, the business has no choice but to post a sign on the door, lock the doors, and walk away.

COVID-19 and the strategies and tactics necessary to defeat the spread are going to put extreme pressure on nearly every local business you know and love — this newspaper as well. Your support of shopping locally now and as we begin to recover from this crisis will make the difference between life and death for so many small, locally owned and operated businesses.

Yes, Amazon and other digital-based merchants are convenient. But know when you make a decision to spend — or more accurately invest — through them, the economic impact is minimal, if any, on this local economy. Your dollars leave this community, and with them, any positive economic benefit evaporates as the screen thanks you for your purchase. A cotton-candy economic purchase, if you wish — tasty in the short term, but promotes decay in the long run.

Let’s not promote economic decay in our communities. As we go through this COVID-19 crisis, please consider each dollar you spend as a critical investment in our community. Your purchasing actions will never be more potent as during and after the impact of this crisis. You and your decisions will shape the landscape of our community.

Many local businesses might need to adjust their models during this time to survive. Reducing hours, changing the way they provide services, or even finding new ways to serve customers creatively. Know this is going to be incredibly challenging, and they will need your support. And again, not even this newspaper is going to be immune to this challenge. We, too, are a local business quickly working to find a way to navigate this crisis successfully.

Shop locally. Carefully consider how you spend each of your dollars — knowing each is a highly impactful local investment. Doing so will make a direct determination of local businesses you see on the other side of this crisis.

­- Brenda Burr

Bay City Tribune

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