Minnesota’s Small Towns Will Need A lot of Help Post COVID-19
UNDATED -- Main streets in small towns all across Minnesota look more like ghosts towns these days with the Governor's executive orders in place.
Bradley Peterson is the Executive Director of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. He says it's difficult for businesses in many small communities to remain closed in areas where there have been few confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Some parts of the state where I have talked to city leaders who live in counties where there has not been a significant outbreak yet and they're wondering why the small proprietor shop can't open.
Peterson says towns that are near bordering states are especially noticing the impact.
Especially you look at communities on our western border, they are looking at a lot of economic activity going to North Dakota and South Dakota that are a little bit more open.
A recent report by WalletHub says South Dakota and North Dakota have some of the fewest restrictions in place right now.
Peterson says the help from the state can start with the passing of a bonding bill in the next few weeks.
We were looking at a situation before the pandemic hit where there was a strong argument for a big bonding bill to take care of infrastructure needs across the state, now with the pandemic that argument has only been reinforced.
Peterson says it is also important to make sure the Local Government Aid payments still arrive to cities on time and in full in July and again in December.
He says our small towns may take the longest to recover from this latest recession.
One of the lessons after the great recession earlier this century was that the recovery took longer to take hold in greater Minnesota, and I think that will be especially the case as we come out of this pandemic era.
Peterson says he's been talking with state lawmakers about loan programs that could potentially help main street businesses, as well as federal money coming to cities to help pay for their response.