Opinion | Iowa City residents must continue to support the local economy

Though stores and restaurants are slowly opening up, they are still struggling from the pandemic’s restrictions and effects.


Katie Goodale

The Ped Mall is seen on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Downtown was quiet during the first weekend after spring break as classes have been moved online and the bars closed due to coronavirus. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Perkins, Opinions Contributor

As life is slowly beginning to return to a sense of normalcy, it is easy to forget that locally owned businesses are continuing to face financial hardships as a lingering result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back in March of 2020, companies like Amazon became monopolies. While smaller restaurants, bookstores, boutiques, etc. were forced to temporarily close down, online stores thrived.

Though things are changing, Americans have simply gotten used to conveniently ordering whatever they please with the click of a button, rather than shopping in person.

While nearly every smaller storefront in Iowa City shut down at the height of the COVID-19 chaos, Iowa created a funding program in order to aid small businesses in paying utility bills and providing beneficial services.

This was called the Iowa Small Business Utility Distribution Prevention Program, according to the Iowa Economic Development website, and the short-term relief it provided was helpful to businesses in and around Iowa City. However, this program has since closed, and the same businesses that qualified for the relief program are still struggling to catch up. This time, with no safety net.

A CNBC research article reports that at least half of all U.S. small businesses don’t expect to return to pre-COVID-19 income levels for at least six months. It has been nearly a year since the pandemic began, but too much revenue was lost to pick up from where businesses left off.

The downturn in annual profits was even detrimental for some businesses. Statistically, only 2 percent of small businesses were forced to actually close, many others are struggling to remain open, according to the article.

Purchasing and eating locally is important in order to keep Iowa City’s economy up and running.

Many small businesses have taken to digital means such as social media in order to further promote themselves while attempting to catch up from financial loss. One of many ways to support small businesses is to repost their deals and giveaways on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Formosa in Iowa City is one of multiple businesses to recently hop on the Instagram grind. They have been collaborating with university students, offering up gift-cards and promotional giveaways, and being incredibly active all around by posting food and drink deals daily. Supporting Formosa and other Iowa City restaurants or stores via social media is a perfect way to attempt to keep small businesses successfully running.

Another way to support local businesses, besides the obvious of shopping local whenever possible, is to be caring. Tip generously. Refer your favorite restaurants or stores to family and friends.

Sign up for weekly emails and pay attention to promotions or deals businesses are having. All of these things will be helpful in getting small businesses back on track after the trivial financial period they recently endured.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.