Here is how a small county is coming to the rescue of small businesses. The County has set up its own small business rescue fund administered by the Grand Foundation. The fund raised seed money of $390,000 in municipal contributions. Governments of Grand County, Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Kremmling, and Grand Lake have provided the start-up funding. While the federal government's small business program is tied up in knots, and money will be slower in flowing than we hoped, the county in the meantime is taking the matter into its own hands to bridge the gap. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/04/21/dem_candidates_give_pelosi_party_leaders_a_pass_on_sba_loans_142998.html
For those unfamiliar with the county, Grand County is a mixture of ranching, ski and tourist areas, and second homes. 40% of employment is in tourist-related businesses. Nearly 550 had filed for unemployment insurance in March alone. An untold number of seasonal workers have made other arrangements or left the area. The population is around 15,000 permanent residents.. Except for a world-class ski area and two supermarkets, the business climate is mostly small business. There are no big box Targets or Walmarts or mega restaurant chains other than a few fast-food drive-throughs, a ranch/farm retailer, and nationally affiliated hardware stores franchises.
As calls increase to "re-open" for business soon, we still do not know how long it will be until income returns to normal since it will also depend upon whether customers will feel safe enough to go to their favorite restaurant or even to shop frequently in retail and grocery stores. Most Americans are afraid to relax stay at home orders. https://fox40.com/news/national-and-world-news/ap-norc-poll-few-americans-support-easing-virus-protections/How "opening up" will affect the construction sector likely depends upon whether demand remains high and whether social distancing is that kind of a problem that can be or needs to be worked around. According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, 60% of Americans are afraid of opening too early.
The tempo of business re-opening will be different than even in nearby Denver because as a ski tourist/area the driver for many of the county's small businesses, mid-April-end of June is mud season. Even in normal years, small businesses shut down at this time because there are no tourists and few second homers. Snow melts and the wind is often cold and raw. However, "mud season" started in early March due to stay at home practices and orders. The result was that the normal boost in income with spring skiing did not materialize this year and losing that revenue will be fatal to the future of some businesses in spite of the availability of aid.
The problem of early re-opening for business is being posed by national political leaders and media pundits as is a moral trade-off. How many people will die of Coronavirus if we open up too early and will there is a second wave as a result? From Washington and media, we are hearing 100,000 dead would acceptable. From TV Dr. Oz , kids returning to classrooms would have a 2 to 3%. fatality rate. How he arrived at that figure is unclear (and he did walk back his comment the prospect was "appetizing" ), but the reason classrooms are closed, is not that the kids are so vulnerable. They are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers and take the virus home to grandma and their parents.
People believe they are individuals, not just a national statistic. Not many would be willing to martyr themselves just for the purpose of opening some businesses somewhere. The businesses may open their doors, but no one may feel safe enough to enter. They could see an early opening as risky to their personal wellbeing before a vaccine is available or there is widespread testing that will give us a sense of how many are virus carriers there are in our community. When consumer confidence returns is anyone's guess. In any case, the need to prop up small businesses may go on much longer than we originally thought.
So much of the resort portion of the county's economy also hinges on the return of second homers, but if the virus is not under control in the Front Range, Grand County might see more second homeowners bring their virus with them. So far the County has escaped any widespread infection. However, that is the best we can tell without widespread testing, and we have benefited by the Governor's stay at home orders for second homers. Recently, more second homers have been arriving in the county and hopefully not many are going without face masks to protect the locals. Our own county health facilities are not sufficient to treat both locals and visitors. When the governor "opens up the state" to business is a nagging worry since we do not know how this particular virus works in warmer weather.
The county has gone through tough times before, most recently the financial crash of 2008. We emerged slowly, but stronger than ever in a building flurry for second homeowners, mostly from the booming Denver-Boulder area. Much of the county's future will also depend upon how this Front Range's economy survives and thrives because that area feeds a major part of our county's economy. Ultimately only when there is a vaccine against this cursed virus or lifesaving, symptom-relieving treatments and expanded testing to determine who will not spread the disease will we feel the fruits of the full resurgence of tourism and skiers from around the country and the world. So far nationwide only 1% of the population has been tested and there is no way to know whether the stranger standing too close to you is a carrier or even if you are an asymptomatic carrier or immune yourself. Until then social distancing and wearing facemasks may have to be observed by residents and strangers alike for an even longer time than we first imagined. Nonetheless, the beauty of the mountains and the powder snow will be here waiting, unchanged. That is the brightest light at the end of this long tunnel.
Update: Grand County staying ahead of the virus: https://www.skyhinews.com/news/county-launches-symptoms-tracker-to-help-monitor-coronavirus/