Editorial

Editorial

April 10: OVN EDITORIAL on OPINION page: Call to save local business

The Ojai Valley News is adjusting to the challenges posed by the pandemic. We are reporting on them, and advocating here for changes needed to protect our community.
OVN’s adjustments:
We have moved our production to Valley Printers in Sylmar as our previous printer, the Santa Barbara News-Press, stopped "due to the COVID-19 state of emergency." As we make the switch to a new page size, we are hopeful the print quality is even better. Because the newspapers will be delivered to Ojai in the wee hours of the morning, they may arrive at subscribers’ doors as late as 11 a.m. Friday. However, the digital version is available Thursday by 8 p.m. at www.ojaivalleynews.com.
We are all facing adversity we have never before encountered. Perhaps you have noticed that many of our advertisers have shuttered, essentially reducing the Ojai Valley News’ main revenue stream. As a small business, the Ojai Valley News faces many of the same crises others are facing. We have made painful cutbacks while we have expanded our online coverage to meet the heavy demand of 4,000 to 9,000 online users per day. We are committed to keeping you informed during times when the news changes by the hour, with postings throughout the day on www.ojaivalleynews.com.

 

We want to thank the 20 people who were able, in these uncertain times, to reach out and contribute to the Ojai Valley News to help us bridge the financial shortfall we are experiencing.
Evolving Ojai public policy:
Today, the Ojai Valley News, and the other essential businesses in the Ojai Valley, are masking up, by order of the city of Ojai. Masks are now required to be worn by people entering stores and offices. We applaud the city for leading Ventura County in the effort to protect those bravely continuing to serve us. Don’t have a mask? You can make your own or use bandanas and scarves, as demonstrated by Ojai Mayor Johnny Johnston in a fun city of Ojai video this week. (The U.S. Navy is requiring personnel to make masks out of T-shirts, which brings new meaning to “military grade.”)
Local advocacy:
The federal government Paycheck Protection Plan is a government promise to save small businesses with some forgiveness loans, presented as a way to keep workers employed and businesses on life support during this sudden, massive shortfall. While Rep. Julia Brownley’s staff members have assured the Ojai Valley News they are still working on the rules and details as they unfold, we have learned from our own experience, and that of many other local small businesses, that these programs are failing most. Our investigations so far reveal that the big banks are writing their own terms, using the CARES Act programs as a bailout for themselves. Meanwhile, politicians squabble in their sandbox, allowing the same banks that brought us the 2008 recession to sidle up to the trough once again — this time funded by our grandchildren. The banks are giving loans to protect their own interests and leaving small businesses without loans hanging out to dry.
Look at some of the disqualifiers Ojai businesses have encountered this last week: Your business does not gross $2 million a year (Chase Bank). You do not already have a “business” account and a business loan in the same bank (Bank of America). You have no business loan history (Bank of America). Your payroll, or loan, or business account is run through a non-participating community bank (Bank of the Sierra). Your federally sanctioned bank has reached its lending limit (Wells Fargo).

 

So far, members of Congress are representing themselves. Come to Ojai and ask the business owners in this new ghost town how many are going to survive. It will be a struggle for most.
We urge you to join us in helping our politicians do their job. Apply pressure on them to read the fine print and make the changes needed to help save Ojai Valley businesses. They need information about the roadblocks before it’s too late. Please join us and write Congresswoman Brownley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., as well as Assemblywoman Monique Limon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Finally, please keep sharing your stories with us, as we are stronger together in this effort.