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Gov. DeWine’s Small Business Advisory Council proposes relief plans for struggling businesses

The owner of Ohio City-based Campbell’s Sweets Factory suggests state and federal aid won’t help businesses recover long term.
Updated: May. 7, 2020 at 7:39 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Relief for small businesses in greater Cleveland and beyond could soon be on the way, thanks to Ohio’s Small Business Advisory Council.

The group, which is part of Gov. DeWine’s Common Sense Initiative, held its quarterly meeting Thursday morning by teleconference.

Among the proposals and suggestions raised by the members were waiving interest and penalties for overdue taxes, extending deadlines for required licenses and certifications, tax credits for COVID-related safety purchases and a possible new tax holiday for some industries -- much like the existing sales tax holiday just before school starts in Ohio.

John Werkman, the chief of the Business Services Division at the Ohio Development Services Agency, said he and the agency are trying to work with the business community to help them navigate through their struggles.

“Really just trying to let the small businesses know there’s somebody here listening to them and try to point them to resources as much as possible,” he said. “Businesses wanted to vent and we understood that and tried to listen to them as much as possible.”

The council is made up of business and political leaders and is described on the State of Ohio’s website as a group that “advises on government rules and regulations, and helps identify those that place unnecessary burdens on Ohio’s job creators.”

Jeff Campbell of Ohio City based Campbell’s Sweets Factory, said he’s unsure how much of an impact federal and state funding and/or programs can have on local businesses.

Campbell’s has benefited from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

“Those are short term programs. They’re for a season, just a couple months. After that, what do you do? Until America gets back to work, there’s no upward direction,” he said.

Campbell estimates his revenue is down about 60 percent.

“We had a two and a half day production week this week. We would normally be five days a week,” he told 19 News. “I know that we’re probably good for the next four to five weeks. I cannot tell you for sure that Campbell’s will be here at the end of this year.”

About half of the company’s 22 employees are working, he said.

“Before this all happened, we weren’t in horrible shape, but we were struggling to get by,” said Campbell.

Retail businesses in Ohio are allowed to reopen on May 12.

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