City should reach out to businesses


Thank you for reporting on my proposal to the City Council to establish a grant program to small businesses that were forced to close or suffer greatly reduced business as a result of the pandemic.

One thing you didn’t touch on was my offer to the council to personally contact the businesses and help set things in motion. I’m glad you didn’t; that was a lousy idea. In fact, it should be the city, through the council, that is reaching out.

Through the American Rescue Act, the city will receive just over $2 million that can be used for infrastructure work such as water and sewer projects and also allows the grant programs.

Apparently, streets are excluded as I also asked about adding money to our street maintenance fund. This would not permit the sidewalk work as suggested by a previous letter.

In my very informal survey, I identified 21 businesses that I thought would qualify for such a grant program. If everyone applied and was approved that would amount to $210,000 out of a total of $2 million or 10 to 12 percent, leaving the city with some $1.8 million dollars to apply to other projects.

I actually think the number would be less as some people would not be comfortable with opening up their books, as required by a program being run through Linn County, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that if your doors are closed or you are forced to operate at 25% capacity or less that it is impossible to make money.

For instance, how long was it impossible to get a haircut in this city?

It has been suggested to me, rather indirectly, that several businesses had already received a grant from the city to improve their appearance. That’s all well and good but if you can’t open your doors, what good does it do you? I hope not, but it could cause a business to not apply.

Many of our businesses are family-owned, which I’m sure means they have already invested savings, etc. for an opportunity to compete in a business world, so when a councilor suggests “they can always get a small business loan,” that to me is as lousy an idea as my offer to contact the businesses myself.

In fact, they may already have such a loan; I don’t know.

Then another councilor speaks of using the money so it benefits the most people possible and that we need to think of “the greater good.” When someone talks to me of “the greater good,” what they are saying is that your needs don’t matter.

I really don’t mean to belittle the council; it’s through their efforts and others before them that we have fire, ambulance and a police department that is second to none anywhere. Our city management is great and our departments from Public Works to Library and the entire city staff are an excellent group.

Our business community has been hammered in the past year and if we can use 10 to 12% of this unexpected $2 million windfall it will be a good investment.

We have already lost two more businesses to this pandemic. We don’t need any more empty storefronts.

How to spend the rest of the money? My only comment is to say that we are under, as I understand, a mandate to improve or replace our sewer plant. If we devote less that $1 million to this project, we are doing a disservice to the rate payers.

Now, on a more personal note, I have decided that I will no longer be a torch bearer for this or any other project for the city. Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, when he realized his efforts were over, said, “I will fight no more forever.”

With luck, in a few short weeks I will be 82 years old. I am satisfied with my legacy. I have served my country and I have served my community, and as a country boy from Oklahoma, I have done the best I could.

I would like to thank my wife Linda, who has stood with me and by me, being my sounding board for many years. To the community who gave me the privilege and bestowed many honors over the years, I say thank you as well.

So, in the words of Chief Joseph, “I will fight no more forever.”


David Holley