The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has voted to form an Economic Recovery Task Force. It will be comprised of Riverside County agencies and private sector entities. The team will focus on identifying policies and measures, while providing recommendations for a "slow and cautious re-opening" of some businesses.
The board voted 5-0 on Tuesday for the creation of the task force.
"We need to be prepared as we come out of this and it’s not going to be overnight," Riverside County 2nd District Supervisor, Karen Spiegel said.
The team will be designed to help slowly restore the local economy. Among its responsibilities, the county said it would help create a path for small businesses facing hardship.
"How do we prepare our restaurants, hotels, small business community in that first phase-- that they actually have gloves, whether they have masks?" 4th District Riverside County Supervisor, V. Manuel Perez said.
Obtaining personal protection equipment has already become an issue for many people.
"That’s my concern. My concern is we’re not ordering enough supplies as a small business to get deliveries from certain companies because of the size of the orders so we have to look for alternative sources for that. Finding a lot of the stuff is next to impossible" co-owner of CJ's Diner in Palm Desert, Raylene Massoudi said.
The restaurant has faced several setbacks through the pandemic, and is now only serving takeout. Massoudi said CJ's Diner employed around 22 people, and is now down to 4 employees.
"I take it day-by-day. I try not to let my frustrations or fear get in the way. And I try and let these people here be the priority, they’re trying to survive just like everybody and they mean a lot to us," Massoudi said.
Massoudi applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the Small Business Administration. It's part of the federal government's formation of the CARES Act.
"There’s a $10,000 advance that was supposed to help you out and we’ve heard nothing," Massoudi said.
The restaurant owner said she wants to see the county or state expedite programs that some people are relying on.
"It’s a risk no matter what we do so I do feel like there’s a time and place to really start looking forward, even if we’re not quite ready yet. We have to start preparing for it and thinking about it and having discussions," Massoudi said.
In the meantime, the board of supervisors spoke on the importance of having adequate representation from small businesses in the new task force.
"Everyone of them is essential in every way and I would again reiterate how important it is that their voice is just as loud as everyone else’s," 5th District Riverside County Supervisor, Jeff Hewitt said.