The US government has rolled out a stimulus package and the Coalition are going theorugh it and seeing what that means for business on the ground in their neighbouthood.
“Businesses need cash relief and they need it in the form of loans forgiveness, grants and zero-interest loans,” says Greg. “Our workforce has been put on sub-minimum wage employment benefits, the stimulus package goes some way to addressing these questions but there is a lot more to do.
“Now the administration does its thing, but we have to make sure that our people can actually get the money. Many of them are operators, many are business owners, but their first and foremost hospitality workers, they don’t have an MBA or Masters in business, and if you want to fill a loan application, it’s a very difficult process to go through. We need more relief from sales tax, from payroll tax, it’s almost an endless list.
Of course there is real concern for the welfare of hospitality workers who all of a sudden are unemployed as a result of restaurant closures across the country, but the reality is that, their unemployment affects many mor industries associated with them, explains Max.
“Everyone understands there are a lot of restaurants workers but they see it as something people do when they’re students or kids, but for us, this is our careers. We recently had to lay-off 60 people, we’re relatively small, but on one street, that’s 60 people unemployed overnight. That’s 60 people not getting their dry-cleaning done across the street, not getting their coffee at the bakery, not getting their organic juice before they start their shift, not going to the bar across the street after their shift, they’re not going to the local pet food store, all those other places have been hit.”
These are all big question and the actions that will answer them will ultimately take place at the federal level. However, for Greg and Max, they can work in the here and now, at a local level, firstly feeding the community that they are galvanising.
“The Lee Initiative realised that in New York, liquor companies aren’t using their marketing budget, right now,” says Max So we were able to get Maker’s Mark to sponsor our foodbank project. The crazy thing is though, even though we can offer employment to our staff at this moment, many of them don’t want to leave their homes, they’re terrified. We’re just doing our best to try and help this. We’re all in this together,” he says.