Oro Valley Town Talk: OVSafeSteps launches this week
Published on September 16, 2020
In six months, we have watched a global crisis evolve from a public health issue into a threat to our economy and way of life. The pandemic continues on while businesses close and jobs dry up. Lives are lost or upended. This pandemic is posing a threat to the survival of small businesses, which puts our economic health in jeopardy. We must find ways to support and help our businesses thrive, but in order to do that, we must first work to ensure the health of the people who call this place home. That means your family and my family. Your neighbors. The person behind you in line at the grocery store. We are in this together, and we must solve this together. But there’s no single answer to the challenges we face; instead, it’s a series of steps we must take together. And that’s where OVSafeSteps can help.
At the direction of the Mayor and Councilmembers, as well as Town Manager Mary Jacobs, we have begun work with the help of valued partners and consultants, including the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce to develop OVSafeSteps—a program that provides free resources and reimbursement to Oro Valley’s small businesses who are struggling during COVID-19.
Even though the state and federal government have released some funds and launched several support programs, many small businesses in the greater Oro Valley area—and across the nation—are still struggling to keep their doors open. While every Oro Valley business will be invited to participate in the OVSafeSteps effort, the program was designed specifically to support small businesses with fewer than 50 FTEs. So, how does the program work?
OVSafeSteps is built on the philosophy “Healthy community. Healthy economy,” and has three primary focus areas: promote, support and protect. These focus areas were guided by input from our elected officials, Town staff, leaders in the business community, and survey data from Oro Valley residents. Each of the OVSafeSteps strategies is intended to guide us toward this shared goal of a healthy community and healthy economy.
What’s in it for businesses? Every business in the greater Oro Valley area is invited to participate. Make the OVSafeSteps promise. Order free materials like window clings and posters to show your support for this community-wide effort. However, if you’re a local, brick-and-mortar business with fewer than 50 employees, you are eligible to apply for PPE reimbursement, marketing cost reimbursement, IT and marketing coaching, business support, and so much more. Just visit www.OVSafeSteps.com and click “For Businesses.”
What’s in it for residents? Residents are literally the life-blood of this community, and we need to do what we can to ensure their health and safety while patronizing local businesses. We understand that not everyone is ready to dine in a restaurant yet, but some people are comfortable eating outside on the patio or doing curb-side pickup. So we have partnered with our local businesses to help identify what kinds of safety precautions they have in place so you can find the right place for you. So if you’d like to enjoy a meal on a patio but aren’t sure which restaurants offer outdoor dining, you can filter your search results for those restaurants. We’re still working with our businesses to get their information updated in our database, so it’s possible that some information is missing or incomplete. If your favorite restaurant or business isn’t showing up, reach out and let them know about this great resource! Our goal is to help our community support local business. To get started, visit www.OVSafeSteps.com and click “For our Community.”
OVSafeSteps is a program made possible by the Town of Oro Valley’s allocation of CARES Act Funding from the state of Arizona. The Town received more than $5 million in funding to alleviate the business-related impacts of COVID-19, such as regular payroll costs of public safety and public health personnel. As a result, some of the Town’s previously-allocated general funds were freed up to support other local government priorities. Understanding the economic peril that our local businesses face, and the impact that would have on our quality of life, our Town Council authorized $1 million in the FY20-21 budget to support our local business community during COVID-19. OVSafeSteps is the program that was developed to help ensure those funds are directed to Oro Valley businesses in meaningful ways that will help weather the storm while also keeping our residents safer, especially our vulnerable populations. Better yet—the program was developed with the goal of also engaging the entire community in this effort.
If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that the solution to a problem of this magnitude doesn’t lie in one single action or one single decision. Finding our way through these difficult times will take a series of collaborative decisions and actions, and a community-wide approach to problem solving. Visit www.OVSafeSteps.com today and find out how you can help make Oro Valley safe, responsible, open.
By Chris Cornelison, Oro Valley Assistant Town Manager - Explorer Newspaper, 9/16/20