Business owner urges council to re-open businesses

The state’s method of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic is playing havoc on the business community, a business owner told the Enterprise City Council at the council meeting May 5.

“The goals keep changing,” Greg Padgett said. “Businesses don’t know what’s next, how to plan, how to respond.”

Padgett is president and chief executive officer of Eagle’s Wings Technologies in Enterprise and he addressed the council during the portion of the meeting during which citizens are offered the opportunity to address the council for three minutes.

Padgett asked the council to pass a resolution petitioning Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to accept the recommendations that Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and the Alabama Small Business Commission Task Force made and asked the council to include removing the restrictions on churches.

The state’s Small Business Commission Task Force, chaired by Ainsworth, was comprised of business leaders and members of the state legislature from both parties.

The plan, called the “Reopen Alabama Responsibly: Phase 1” was presented to Ivey April 17. “Our report provides an effective roadmap for safely reopening business, restoring commerce and recharging Alabama’s economy, while at the same time protecting the public health,” Ainsworth said. “It allows stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and businesses of all sizes to once again open their doors because when it comes to restarting our economy and putting people back to work, every business is an essential business.”

“The citizens and business owners, while we were unhappy at the prospect of having to have business interruptions, were willing to do it for the greater good,” Padgett told the council. “The short term sacrifices have now stretched to a longer and longer term. It started with 14 days. Then 30 days and now we’re headed towards 45 with no real promise of relief then.

“The goal keeps changing and common sense seems to be lacking,” Padgett said. “The initially stated goal of keeping the healthcare system from being overwhelmed (due to COVID-19 cases) has been met. “We are nowhere near the 7,000 people they anticipated would die in Alabama by now,” Padgett noted. “Goals keep changing, businesses don’t even know what’s next, how to plan, how to respond.”

Padgett compared the current state of affairs to the Peanut’s cartoon showing Lucy continually moving the ball that Charlie Brown is trying to kick. “Business owners have no idea what is next,” he said. “We get ready to kick off and we’re flat on our back again.

“Common sense was not employed for closures. Small businesses have now proven their ability to do whatever it takes to make this work,” Padgett said. “During this closure we’ve already had three businesses, that I am aware of in Enterprise, have to close their doors permanently.”

Padgett said that not allowing barbershops and hair salons to open did not make sense. “These establishments take precautions daily and at any given moment, the state boards can come in and inspect them for sanitation,” he said. “If dentists can open and be that close to someone’s mouth, surely salons can open.”

At the voting meeting, the council unanimously passed a resolution that did include some of Padgett’s concerns. A copy of the resolution was sent to the governor and the local legislative delegation.

In the resolution, the council urged the governor and state legislature “to cause the immediate adoption and implementation of the reopening recommendations of the Alabama Small Business Emergency Task Force, with churches and other places of worship added to the list of facilities that should be re-opened.”

In the resolution the council stated that “it is in the best interests of the overall health, security and welfare of local citizens for the council to urge the governor and state legislature to immediately cause the adoption of the reopening recommendations of the Alabama Small Business Emergency Task Force.”

The next meeting of the Enterprise City Council is June 5 at Enterprise City Hall. A work session begins at 5 p.m. A voting meeting begins at 6 p.m. The meetings are open to the public.

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