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We can still support our local businesses

Today, all is quiet on our main streets throughout southwest Minnesota.

On Monday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’ ordered the shutdown of restaurants, bars, theaters, salons, etc. That order affects our main streets hard. Many bartenders, wait staff and hairdressers are now out of work.

Not surprising, Minnesota is now seeing a sharp jump in applications for unemployment insurance. The Department of Employment and Economic Development took more than 2,000 applications per hour Tuesday, compared with about 40 to 50 per hour last week, said Jim Hegman, the state’s unemployment insurance director. The number of applications this week topped 31,000 by Tuesday afternoon, compared with a more typical 500 for this time of year, he said.

Meanwhile, the owners of these affected establishments are fretting about the future of their businesses. First these business owners had to go through the painful process of laying off employees, and now they need to figure out how they can pay bills that will keep coming in during this statewide shutdown.

It seems like a helpless situation. But we all can help to keep our businesses afloat, and maybe keep some workers employed.

The Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce offered a couple suggestions on its website:

• Many restaurants are keeping their kitchens open and offering take out orders. Some are even delivering. Placing an order once in awhile keeps dollars on Main Street.

• Purchase gift cards to use later or as gifts.

• Keep your memberships because many businesses, such as fitness centers, rely on dues to operate.

• And ask a business how you may help

Keep in mind, every little bit helps.

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