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Local business owners ask city for support

There were about 15 local business owners gathered on the steps of City Hall, all displeased with how the city council handled- or didn’t handle- the first lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 10:55 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - As the city council discussed tightening up COVID-19 restrictions, frustrations for small business owners were front and center at Monday night’s meeting.

From a city-wide lockdown, to partially reopening, to now publicly asking for help... local business owners are now demanding a plan of action from the city council.

On Monday night, there were about 15 local business owners gathered on the steps of City Hall, all with a unifying concern: support small businesses.

That message was directed towards city council, who they say has failed to take action.

“The pursuit of what?" said Paul Buitron, of Buitron Academy. "Happiness and liberty. Nobody right now is happy, and our liberties are being taken away.”

Paul Buitron owns a martial arts school, which has been open for more than 30 years.

He says he’s displeased with how the city council handled- or didn’t handle- the first lockdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The owner of Fuddruckers in Laredo agrees.

“We’ve been in this for eight months already, and no action has been taken," said Celestino Marina. "And no action has been taken on helping small businesses.”

Typically, this time of year is when sales are looking up, especially with Black Friday just a week and a half away. These owners say they can’t wait for action to be taken.

They even fear the city may impose another lockdown.

To clarify, the only way a lockdown could happen in Laredo is if the governor issues one statewide.

Whatever happens, this group says a solid plan is needed.

“The local community wants to work together," said Rey Rocha of Rocha’s Bar and Grill. "Now we just need the city officials to want to work with local owners to keep us open, to keep us afloat, to keep our head above water during these difficult times.”

Of course this pandemic is something we are all navigating as we go, but the owners who spoke with KGNS News say they just want action.

So far, the city has helped small businesses by awarding $2 million in grants.

Right now, council member Nelly Vielma is working on a citywide collaborative effort to promote small businesses on social media during the holiday season.

She also says she is pushing for Small Business Saturday and to allow them to sell at city parks. She would not comment further.

In the meantime, here’s how you can shop locally:

- if a local business allows you to shop online, do so if that’s an option

- also, order food through delivery apps

- or go through a restaurant’s drive-thru

- and of course, feel free to buy gift cards.

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