A plea for city support of small businesses – An opinion

By Katy Dougherty
Tasty’s Fresh Burgers
June 11, 2020

I write on behalf of the small business owners of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County. I was surprised and dismayed to hear that the Chamber of Commerce, lobbying on behalf of us all, have been repeatedly denied assistance by the same government leaders charged with protecting us during COVID19.

Political platitudes are replete with talk of community. Who among us serves our community in the widest variety of ways? Who donates to our causes, charities, and fundraisers? Who chairs our ParentTeacher Associations, coaches our little league teams, and sponsors our schools? Who puts down their roots, risks everything that they have, and labors day and night to carve out a permanent spot for themselves in this community? Who defines the character of our city and county, making it a unique place to work, live and visit? Who rallies behind our first responders, giving back and showing appreciation in the little ways that they can? Who employs our citizens, adheres to our regulations and laws, and dutifully pays their taxes year in and year out? Who is the collective personality, the lifeblood, and in many ways the backbone of our community? Who are those who work the hardest, risk the biggest, and hope the most for the success and health of our community? We are from all walks of life, represent the vast diversity of our community, and all share the common spirit inherent to the American entrepreneurial dream. The answer to all these questions is the small business owner. Their success not only reaches the furthest to ensure the success of our community, they also are the least likely to ask for anything but a level playing field on which to do their best. The global pandemic will claim its casualties, as it already has. Some of us will fail. But, to preserve the thin fabric of faith in our leaders, we must know that what could have been done was indeed done. We must know in the aftermath that we came together, that our government worked more on our behalf than on its own preservation, and that in response to our humble requests, action was taken.

The silver lining to adversity is that it reveals our true character. There is certainly a time and a place for dreaming, for ideas, and for gracious talk. Empty words are a luxury enjoyed by some and endured by others in easy times. But, times of peril and uncertainty demand honesty and action. Now is a time for practical solutions to real challenges. There is much at stake. I expect from our elected, appointed and tenured leaders proactive measures to ensure our common welfare, not inadequate responses to cries for help. None of us expect that our government offer what is unreasonable to solve the whole of what our epidemic has engendered. My hope is simply that it does what it can. Perhaps some among our officials might reach out to our community to say, “We can’t fix everything, but we can fix this.” It’s not the miles ahead that make the journey seem so long; it’s the rocks in our shoes.


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