Murray City leaders and Chamber of Commerce launch economic task forceJun 01, 2020 11:40AM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Members of the Murray Area Chamber of Commerce attend an “Eggs n’ Issues” brunch. (Photo courtesy Murray Area Chamber of Commerce)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
At the end of April, Murray had 145 coronavirus cases, according to the Utah Department of Health. Murray’s economy was hit hard with closures due to the pandemic. Restaurants, retail and personal services like spas and gyms were directly impacted; but wholesalers also saw supply chains break down and service industries had to deal with consumers cutting spending.
“Lost revenue, furloughs, layoffs, and even permanent closures are happening right here in Murray,” said Joseph Silverzweig of the Murray Area Chamber of Commerce.
Gov. Gary Herbert loosened restrictions in May, allowing some establishments, like Fashion Place Mall, to open. Restaurants, gyms, and hair salons were allowed to open with social distancing and sanitizing requirements.
To help local businesses respond to the economic impact of the pandemic, the Murray Area Chamber of Commerce has created an economic task force.
“The purpose of the task force is to position the economy of the Murray area to rebound as quickly and fully as possible from the COVID-19 crisis while preserving public health, equitable employment, and the local character and spirit,” Silverzweig said. “Representatives of our retail, wellness, restaurant, and healthcare industries serve on the task force as well as Chamber leadership, representatives from Murray and Midvale cities, and local community leaders.”
Silverzweig, an attorney and Murray resident who works for Comcast as a government affairs manager, chairs the task force. He also serves on the Chamber’s political affairs committee and was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah.
“The Chamber is committed to being a resource for every business in our community, not just members, and we've stepped up to the challenge presented by COVID. Chamber President and CEO Stephanie Wright has done a wonderful job pivoting quickly to digital formats for education and has been a leader on this task force, leveraging her experience and connections to help everyone we can,” Silverzweig said.
At the April 7 Murray City Council meeting, the council passed a resolution expressing support for the task force. City Councilor Kat Martinez was appointed to represent the council on the task force. A Midvale City councilmember is also going to be appointed to the group.
“The task force has compiled a library of resources for any member of our business community to access, including information about how to take advantage of federal, state, and local aid opportunities and how to effectively run a business during lockdown. We're also going to be highlighting local businesses who are open and show our community how hard business owners are working to keep you safe and leave you feeling comfortable and excited about going out and shopping again. In addition, we are advocating for policies at the local level that will help our businesses thrive,” Silverzweig said.
Utah sales tax revenue plummeted significantly in March, according to the Utah State Tax Commission. Murray City’s sales tax revenue fell 15.2%. Some industries fared worse than others in Utah: food services tax revenue dropped 26%, retail clothing fell 44%, and auto parts were down 20%.
Murray City Council held budget meetings in May asking all city departments to identify at least 4% in cuts to deal with the lost revenue. Among other things the council considered to balance the budget was increasing its share that it taps from enterprise funds (revenue collected from Murray Power and Water).
“We’re inviting all small business owners who don’t know where to turn or what to do next to contact the Murray Chamber of Commerce,” Silverzweig said. The Murray Chamber of Commerce can be found online at www.murraychamber.org.