We need a way to help Livermore small businesses in this difficult time.

For the second time recently, I went to one of our favorite restaurants to pick up dinner. There were only two people in the restaurant both times, the owner and cook and a waitress. I had been their only customer. As I left, I couldn’t get this out of my mind. I remembered when I was a young teenager, 14 or 15, working for my father, who owned a service station in Roseville, Michigan. A couple days after we received a load of gasoline my father would hand me a bag of money, the last few day’s receipts, and I would dash to the bank to deposit the money before the check came through for the gasoline. Sometimes I didn’t make it, but the banker who knew my father held the check until I got there. I was thinking, how many small business owners in Livermore play the same game? Only now, although they have expenses coming in regularly, they don’t have the bag of money from customers.

Today why would a hotelier want to operate a hotel in downtown Livermore on either the west or east side of Livermore Avenue? Why do we need a science museum when the museum we have is closed or a Shakespeare theatre when the Bankhead is closed, and even when they re-open people may be required or may choose to maintain some sort of social distancing? These are maybe nice-to-have amenities at a later time, but today we have an urgent problem. Unless we help the downtown businesses weather this storm they will go under and Livermore will not be a destination, but rather will look like many Midwestern towns today that have lost their manufacturing jobs and small businesses and are just surviving with local folk who don’t want to move.

We need to help in this time of crisis. We can help by buying take-out meals, gift cards or whatever. However, we need to do more, much more, if we want to keep many of these businesses alive and keep Livermore vibrant. We need a non-profit or foundation that we can give money to that will in turn distribute it to small businesses in Livermore now as a lifeline without strings attached. I for one will be glad to donate the money I would have spent on a vacation I can’t take anyway.