Legislature continues to focus on business relief, initiatives

By Bee Group Newspapers | on October 15, 2020

Frank J. Todaro
DISTRICT 8
ERIE COUNTY LEGISLATOR

My colleagues and I in the minority caucus of the Legislature continue to remain focused on business relief and initiatives to help our small business community. In last month’s column, I highlighted our proposal to allocate CARES Act funding to struggling small businesses throughout Erie County. While I’m encouraged that the County Executive has released a business relief program, I have many concerns about the way the plan is set up and how the funding will be allocated.

The county executive’s “Back to Business” program was rolled out at a press conference Tuesday morning. While it’s going to help some businesses, it also leaves many out. For example, the main criterion for applying is based on ZIP code. This isn’t fair, as businesses in every single corner of Erie County have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every business owner, regardless of their location, should be eligible for a relief program during these difficult times. The county executive’s plan also leaves out charities and non-profits. These organizations are facing hardships just like any other business. Originally, we had proposed $22 million to be allocated evenly among the 11 legislative districts in Erie County. While I’m disappointed the county executive chose not to work with us on establishing a more equitable plan, I encourage businesses to apply for this funding, as it is going to be limited. The link to the application can be found at www.backtobizgrants.org along with a list of eligibility requirements. In the meantime, I can assure you I will continue advocating for all of the businesses left out of the county executive’s plan.

I am also proud to announce I recently introduced a proclamation declaring October as Italian Heritage Month in Erie County. This is something very special to me, as my parents came to America from Sicily as immigrants to work, start a family and live the American dream. I had the honor of joining Mayor Byron Brown and members of the Italian American Federation of Western New York at a press conference in St. Anthony of Padua Church Sunday morning to present the proclamation. It was a great ceremony marking the many contributions that Italian Americans have made to the Western New York community, and I would like to thank everyone who attended.

As always, if you have questions, comments or concerns regarding the business relief plan or another county-related issue, please feel free to contact my office at Frank.Todaro@ erie.gov or by phone at 681-2071.

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