Naidu Calls on Additional Support for Border Region Businesses

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The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce is calling for additional support for border communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government currently offers up to 65% rent subsidy and recently announced an additional 25% for businesses that have been hardest hit. 

According to chamber President and CEO Rakesh Naidu, businesses in the border region rely significantly on cross-border trade, movement of people, and related business opportunities.

He says in the big picture, he doesn't feel like they're asking much.

"We're not asking for any new programs to be developed specifically for the border communities," he says. "But what we are asking for is that the government extend the additional 25 per cent [of the existing financial relief program] to these businesses in the bordering regions."

Naidu tells AM800 News the ask for the 25% extra relief is because that is about equal to how much cross-border revenue is being lost.

"Businesses that have relied on the U.S. traffic, for them it's a significant loss and it's not sustainable," he says. "If you have almost 25-30 per cent of revenue coming from U.S. shoppers and consumers and you turn off that tap, it becomes very unsustainable for these businesses.)

To date, Naidu says not much has been done specifically for businesses that are directly impacted by the border closure.

"The government has already made the 25 per cent eligible for hardest his businesses, so all we're asking for is that businesses in the border regions be considered as hardest hit because of the border closure."

Naidu says dozens of local chambers - including Windsor-Essex - are urging the federal government to allow these Canadian businesses within a 100 km radius from the border crossing to claim the additional 25% rent subsidy.