DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Just a few months ago, Alabama was celebrating record numbers for low unemployment rates, but the coronavirus has caused an economic slowdown.
Mayor Mark Saliba said he understands the hardship that some businesses are going through right now, and he’s working with other city officials to bring Dothan through this hard time.
“Unemployment numbers are terrible, and you know what, 8 weeks, 9 weeks ago we were celebrating the lowest unemployment rate, so where we have lost a lot is in some of the retail and a lot in the hospitality jobs,” Saliba said
Saliba said he hopes that with the economy pumping back up, unemployment will begin to drop, and jobs will start to be filled up.
“Some of the retail businesses were shut down completely and then having to open back up, they are looking to rehire people,” he explained. “We are looking at ways as a community that we can address some of those needs from the small businesses, especially those that have had a hard time making it over these past couple of months.”
One local retail shop manager said the effects on the small business community have left their future unknown.
“There was just so much unknown, whether or not we’d be able to take advantage of the federal loans or those programs to what that meant for our staff and their families,” said Rick Walz, store manager of Eagle Eye Outfitters. “I know we sent out letters to a lot of different food trucks and locally owned businesses to give some of our space if it could help them,”
Local government is working with small business owners in the area, and the help has not gone unnoticed by businesses.
“The chamber of commerce has been doing a lot of surveys with the small businesses to understand where they are and what it is that they need in order to help them to get through the next month or two,” Saliba explained.
“I think our local leadership has tried to do a really good job of keeping the public safe while trying to also understand that local businesses are a really big lifeline here especially through our area,” Walz said.
Saliba was set to meet with the chamber of commerce today to see what else the local government can do to get businesses back on their feet.