SMALL BUSINESS AND RETAIL COMMITTEE (SBRC)
The SBRC engaged over 100 stakeholders through listening sessions, interviews, and conversations with individual industry representatives and guest presenters to benefit from their first-hand experience, which enabled the Committee to identify real-world, timely, and specific challenges and create viable recommendations and guidance.
Industry representatives who provided input to the SBRC included: Ace Hardware, Costco, Goodwill Industries, Hines Development, Macy's, Industrial Bank, CVS, Wegmans, Politics and Prose, Streets Market, and Wells Fargo.
The SBRC also received valuable input from guest presenters at our daily 8:30 am meeting. Presenters included Ron Busby, President of US Black Chambers; Nicole Quiroga, President, and CEO of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Jodie McClean CEO of Edens, a real estate developer with a large retail footprint throughout America and in DC.
The SBRC also conducted a review of published guidance and best practices applicable to the committee’s work to help frame its recommendations and guidance. Some of the guidance reviewed included publications by The Alliance of Professional Tattooists; National Retail Federation; CDC Small Business Guidance; City First Bank; International Council of Shopping Centers; International Spa Association; OSHA;
Walmart, Wegmans, and ReOpen Mainstreet.
The Committee also incorporated feedback from online surveys; emails from business owners; and focus groups which included business owners, industry associations, employees, and customers. We also gathered insights from DC Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, Chairperson of the DC Council Committee on Business and Economic Development, who participated in several Committee discussions and shared
real-time, direct feedback from DC residents, businesses, and other constituent groups. The Committee was also guided by DC’s Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey DeWitt.
Survey and email respondents include small businesses and retailers from across the city. The committee was pleased with the diversity of input which truly was representative of all 8 Wards. Survey and email respondents included: Andre Taylor Photography, Plum Good LLC, and Baby Einstein, all Ward 8 businesses; Tenleytown Main Street and Write for You/JB Sweets, both Ward 3 businesses; and Solid State Books and Stan’s Men’s Clothing, both Ward 6 businesses.
The SBRC also held telephone sessions with groups representing neighborhood businesses. The telephone session participants included: Anacostia Business Improvement District, the DC BID Council, H Street Main Street, representatives from the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, and groups representing business owners who are hearing and visually impaired.
Finally, the committee reviewed the results of the Mayor’s online survey and incorporated suggestions into the report.
In addition to the report’s primary guidance and universal safeguards (e.g., physical distancing of at least six feet, use of masks in public spaces, stringent sanitation, and hygiene practices) the Committee proposes the following guidance for the subsectors listed below:
The committee also recommends adoption of the sub-sector specific universal safeguards outlined below:
The Committee and its members have identified several additional initiatives and ideas for consideration, which include:
– Maximize the use of public spaces for curbside services, outdoor dining, and showcasing of non-food retail
– Create a Shopping District Ambassador Program that distributes free health/safety equipment and resources at business points of entry to assist the public in adapting to reopening health/safety compliance
– Recruit and train DC residents on COVID-19-related services to offer technical assistance to small businesses
– Provide ample compliance training for all stakeholders
– Assist businesses in migrating to contactless payment systems
– Create a small business and retail agreement form, where the business owner covenants commitment to health/safety protocols and safeguards
– Develop clear and thoughtful enforcement procedures
– Address the underlying structural disparities that contribute to racial/socioeconomic inequities in DC pre COVID-19, including access to capital and access to markets
– Establish key programs that support job creation and business expansion
– Provide all businesses equitable access to DC government resources, including procurement opportunities
– Make PPE available at free or reduced cost to businesses
– Provide training in effective PPE use and other health/safety protocols Increase the availability of testing for business to help identify risks and reduce the spread of COVID19