CANON CITY — In a letter to Governor Jared Polis, Canon City Major Ashley Smith is asking for more COVID-19 tests and a plan for how local businesses can open and when that will be.
"My plea, Governor Polis, is for you to be fully aware of and sympathetic to our rural dilemma," wrote Smith. "Firstly, we need more tests! We have the capacity to conduct the required mass testing to open up our doors, but we need the tests in hand. Secondly, before the April 26/May1 opening date, we need to know how our businesses can and will open. We understand the need for continued stringent social distancing, frequent sanitation, face masks, and/or other precautions. Our small businesses are ready and willing to take responsibility for these important guidelines and even feel they can do it better than the fast food chains and big-box stores if given the opportunity."
Smith explains in her letter to Polis that Fremont County only have 10 positive COVID-19 tests and that they are ready for any outbreak in Fremont County.
In addition, Smith adds that "an important area where we seriously lack needed support is for our local economy and small businesses. Our small business owners started out frustrated when their doors were mandated to close. As time goes on, they continue to be devastated and emotionally wrecked and are now advancing to anger as their future prospects for business survival and personal income are quickly dying."
Smith says that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Canon City was on an 'unprecedented trajectory of economic growth and development' and that the city was on the 'e verge of seeing multiple “game-changer” investments that would kick-start our downtown and riverfront areas into a higher level of activity, vibrancy, and new sales tax revenue.'
Since the state at home order, 10% local businesses say they will not survive the effects of COVID-19 according to the letter. Most of the businesses are operating at 15% capaticy or less.
"Many agonize as they watch their major competitors, the big box stores, remain open and take away sales that could’ve been theirs," wrote Smith. "Many are generational businesses that are built on legacies of family, community, and a strong rural way of living."
Even with a COVID-19 Business Leader Task force, made up of many major players in the city, 'emergency funding is just barely starting to trickle in, but it’s not as much nor as fast as the bills coming in.'
Smith concludes the letter by saying the Governor must work to open local businesses in n a pro-active and health-conscious way.
"We now need Colorado State to give back in a big and timely way. They are not asking for hand outs or more government funds, but the simple opportunity to unlock their store front, welcome a customer, and earn a living."