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More than 800 supporters join chamber to urge Ige to take further action for Hawaii businesses

By Staff | Apr 23, 2020

HONOLULU – The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii recently sent Gov. David Ige a petition signed by 813 Hawaii businesses to urge state leaders to take further action to assist Hawaii businesses impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The petition strengthens efforts led by the chamber to urge state action, including deferment of general excise tax (GET) collection and other measures to help businesses survive extended interruptions and closures.

Many business leaders indicated that federal assistance will not go far enough to stabilize and sustain their businesses until they can reopen.

“The overwhelming response to this petition is a clear indicator that more needs to be done to support local businesses during this difficult time,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president & CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

“All levels of government must be responsible for supporting our local businesses – we need more aggressive statewide efforts. The stabilization measures we are requesting now will allow all businesses to survive long enough to reopen and contribute to long-term recovery efforts.”

The petition calls on Ige to take the following steps for local businesses:

1) Suspension, deferment and/or relief of GET and other tax collections;

2) Low or zero-interest loans for businesses;

3) Greater opportunity for direct capital infusion;

4) State support or matching of loans for businesses that receive Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

In a letter accompanying the petition, Menor-McNamara said that delays in federal grant and loan programs add to the urgency for state action to provide small business relief.

At least nine states, including New York, Florida, Colorado and Maryland, have all provided some type of relief to businesses regarding sales tax collection. These states have either pushed back the deadline for collection or have removed penalties for late payments.

The chamber wrote to Gov. Ige on March 25 to urge him to suspend GET and tax collection, and on March 20 to call for several actions, including expedited expansion of testing and testing sites, limited rent and mortgage relief by government, loan forgiveness programs and pausing any government debt payments.

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii launched a dedicated site for the business community to receive COVID-19 updates at covid19.cochawaii.org.

The chamber is a statewide, nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve as the advocate for business in Hawaii.