Safety of Citizens, Employees and Customers Top Priority in “Opening Heath”
(HEATH, TX – June 23, 2020) As the global COVID-19 pandemic became local in March, the Heath City Council and Heath Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) and Heath Municipal Benefits Corporation (HMBC) moved swiftly to bring aid to Heath businesses.
On April 1, the Council unanimously approved a local business stimulus program developed and also unanimously approved by the Heath Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) and Heath Municipal Benefits Corporation (HMBC) on March 27.
The program taps up to $500,000 of the HMBC fund to provide monetary relief to businesses within the City of Heath experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly restaurants, salons and health care providers.
“This was absolutely the right thing to do, and we applaud our talented EDC board members for their hard and fast work to bring relief to the businesses who have contributed to our community in so many ways from sales tax contributions to quality of life,” said Mayor Kelson Elam. “It’s an absolute success, and our city has been one of the more aggressive in responding to their needs with understanding and, most importantly, funding.
“Our initial focus was to provide a rapid response to get these businesses through the 30 days or so before many began to receive assistance through programs like the federal Paycheck Protection Program,” said HEDC/HMBC President David Lane, explaining that criteria for evaluating applications includes length of time in business in Heath, sales taxes paid and how the business was impacted by COVID-19.
“We are now in Phase 2 of the program where our focus is on assisting with those necessary expenses that are not covered by PPP funds received, such as the costly personal protection equipment and sanitation measures required to ensure the safety of employees and our Heath citizens,” explained Lane. “Our long-term goal is to ensure that these valuable businesses not just survive, but once again thrive in a COVID altered new normal. Even if that means providing additional support in the coming 60 to 90 days; we are here to help Heath businesses get through this.”
The HEDC/HMBC Application Review Committee, which includes Lane, Vice President Vicki Wallace, Past President/Current Board Member Tom Johnson and City Manager Aretha Adams, meets virtually on a weekly basis to review and take action on applications.
Mayor Elam, who is ex officio of the HEDC/HMBC, echoed Lane’s comments regarding support and safety. “With an abundance of caution, we followed the math and science into this pandemic by declaring a Local State of Emergency Disaster in Heath as early as March 17,” he said.
“We will continue to be just as cautious in the best interest of everyone in our community.”
Blue Ribbon News staff report, as published in Blue Ribbon News June/July 2020 print edition.
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