Fresno’s business community is calling on state leaders for help hiring and retaining workers.
Amidst cars going through the line at Belmont Car Wash in southeast Fresno, local leaders had a simple message — help!
To that end, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee is creating an advocacy group called Help Wanted California.
“We are asking our elected officials to help create a shift in strategy to get California moving forward,” Scott Miller, president and CEO of the chamber said Wednesday at a news conference. “Help Wanted California is advocating for incentives that encourage employees to get back to work, including implementing new financial incentives for both employees and small businesses to encourage and enable people to return back to work.”
Among the policies Miller cited were rental assistance, no cost vaccine programs and funding to help offset the cost of child care.
Dyer Says Businesses Affected by Virus
Mayor Jerry Dyer said COVD and the delta variant have hurt businesses. Now that people are returning to the economy brimming with “pent up demand,” some businesses have had to reduce hours because of a shortage of employees.
He compared small businesses trying to move forward to a car engine.
“Business, small business especially, has always been the economic engine for local government. And we’re seeing that these businesses have a restrictor, a governor on them and that governor is not allowing them to thrive in the manner in which they can. And when that happens, local revenues for the city government is not able to be generated to the level that we’re used to,” Dyer said.
A Car Wash Experience
Serge Haitayan hosted the news conference at his car wash. He says not only is he affected by the lack of workers, but his supply chain is slow as well.
“In my 30 years, I have never experienced what I’ve experienced,” Haitayan said.
The experience included cutting shifts, no takers for extra shifts, and many items from his suppliers out of stock.
“I would rely on day to day to sell frozen drinks or fountain drinks or coffee drinks. I cannot find. I have to go get myself generic white cups. It’s becoming to a point where I’m afraid that if this continues like this, it will affect the economy in a very negative way and will bring us into another recession,” Haitayan said.
Vaccines the Answer?
Miller praised vaccines as a way to get out of the pandemic and keep employees and customers safe.
“None of us want to go back to where we were a year ago and we don’t have to,” Miller said.
Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez encourages vaccination, also.
“We have a very powerful tool right now in the toolbox, and that’s the vaccine. And we want to make sure that our employers, that our private sector folks encourage, incentivize, provide, highly, highly encourage their employees to get vaccinated,” Chavez said. “I understand that that’s a personal choice. But we want them to also have that sense of personal responsibility and take care of their families. The last thing we want to see is another shutdown or another slowdown to our economy that had just been devastating.”
Miller said the chamber has not taken a formal position employers mandating vaccines and/or testing.
(Note: An earlier version of this story included a mischaracterization of a comment from Mayor Jerry Dyer. It has been corrected.)