As small businesses continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Aimee Berger-Girvalo, Democratic candidate for Connecticut House of Representatives in the 111th District, is highlighting local businesses throughout the district and proposing policy solutions to provide them with immediate support, the canididate announced.

Early in the pandemic, lawmakers passed the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program, which has funded 2,123 one-year, no-interest loans, averaging $19,705 each. But small businesses are still facing lost income and struggling to pay rent, pay employees, and stay afloat, the candidate’s announcement said. Sales are down and the recent power outages added a vicious blow, particularly to food businesses which had to dispose of meals and supplies due to loss of refrigeration, it said.

“Not only are small businesses a critical part of our local economy, but they help make our communities the welcoming, unique places we call home,” said Berger-Girvalo. “Far too many businesses are on the verge of closing their doors forever as we continue to grapple with this crisis. Hartford needs to step up and do everything in its power to help these businesses weather this storm, and that starts with providing immediate rent relief.”

To provide assistance to small businesses now and throughout the pandemic, Berger-Girvalo is calling for the implementation of the following policy measures:

 Halt all commercial evictions until rental subsidies can be put in place — the current Executive Order only applies to residential evictions;

 Immediately provide emergency rent subsidies for small businesses that are struggling;

 Expand the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program to continue providing no-interest loans to small businesses — particularly women-, veteran-, and minority-owned businesses;

 Create a grant program for small businesses that can demonstrate hardship and cannot afford to take on additional debt, as is being done in Rhode Island;

 Cap delivery platform fees at 10 percent. Deferring fees, as some companies have done, is not enough to help businesses that are struggling to survive.

 Expand Sales Tax Free Week to non-chain restaurants and extend through October and November to encourage shopping locally.

As many businesses cannot afford to advertise or promote due to COVID, Berger-Girvalo has been promoting local businesses on social media with the tag #AimeeOnTheBlock.

Berger-Girvalo has lived in Ridgefield for 15 years and raised her two children in town, sending both to the public schools. She works in special education programs as an applied behavior analysis therapist. For more than a decade, she has been the director and coach of the Ridgefield Holland Soccer program, a volunteer-run program that enables children with physical and learning differences to participate in the sport.