Economic recovery task force formed to support Richmond Hill businesses in wake of COVID-19
City staff has had more than 200 phone, video conference consultations offering individual support to business community
May 1, 2020
As the spread of the novel coronavirus appears to slow down across Canada, Richmond Hill has ramped up economic recovery efforts to address uncertainties in these difficult times.
Council established a recovery task force at the April 22 meeting, which aims to recommend measures to help local businesses reopen, retool and recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The task force -- comprising three council members and four representatives from local business communities -- is expected to lead the "next phase" of the city’s economic development response to the pandemic with a focus on economic recovery, according to a news release.
There were more than 5,000 brick-and-mortar businesses in Richmond Hill as of mid of 2019, according to the York Region Employment Survey.
'It crashed': Coronavirus sends hard-hit Richmond Hill businesses into survival mode
While an estimate of business closures is currently unavailable, a significant portion of these businesses have had to close their doors, lay off employees and struggle to stay afloat.
Earlier in April, several small business owners reached out to The Liberal about the difficulties they were dealing with due to the COVID-19 guidelines and demanded the city offer tangible financial aids.
On April 1, council adopted a motion to waive penalties and interest on late property tax payments through Jan. 1, 2021, and waive water and wastewater late payment charges for overdue accounts through Jan. 1, 2021.
City staff has had more than 200 phone and video conference consultations offering individual support to the business community and has been actively engaged with local business associations, according to the news release.
At least seven local businesses have switched gears to produce essential medical supplies to help fight the spread of the virus, and more than 55 others are considering retooling their operations, according to the city.
"During this difficult time I’ve been very proud -- but not surprised -- at how many Richmond Hill businesses are stepping up to be part of the fight against COVID-19," Mayor Dave Barrow said. "While the fight is not yet won, we’re starting to look ahead to our economic recovery."
Staff has also contacted the four major food delivery service providers to promote incentive programs to reduce the cost for local independent restaurants and diners, including a program offered by a Richmond Hill-based Asian food delivery app, CMEOW.
The task force will build on these efforts to further help businesses navigate the unprecedented challenges and continue to produce essential products and services during the crisis.
Affected business owners can tune into webinars held by the city to assist retail businesses in transitioning to online sales and exploring other opportunities.
The Richmond Hill Board of Trade has also been working with the city to encourage residents to continue to shop and eat locally.
Visit Shoplocalrichmondhill.ca to find out which local businesses are open.
Visit www.richmondhill.ca for more details on business support offered by the city.