Business owners along Laurel’s Main Street told Sen. Benjamin Cardin today they are still weathering the economic downturn.
Cardin (D), who is seeking reelection in November, stopped by Laurel for a tour of Main Street and the Laurel Mall site and to hear an update on local economic development throughout the city.
Local business owners told the senator they continue to suffer in a sluggish local economy.
“People just aren’t spending. They don’t have the income,” said Debbie Zook, owner of Rainbow Florist and Delectables along Main Street.
Zook told Cardin that she’s faced increased competition from online vendors. Over the last six years, she’s had to lay off over half of her staff of 22 employees, she said.
“I don’t want to let anyone go but I struggle,” she said to Cardin.
Cardin said he implores state residents to shop local as vital tool to strengthen the local economy.
“It’s support for our own,” he said. “My message to all Marylanders is to ‘Buy Local.’ Small businesses are the driving force behind job creation in America, but they need our support to drive our economic recovery.”
Locally, the Laurel Council has approved more than $300,000 in grants and other funding for Main Street businesses. But owners complained that times are still tough.
Bill Miles owner Laurel Meat Market said he’s been breaking even at best, but has seen an improvement since last year.
“Last year was pretty bad,” he said. “It’s decent, not making any money but I am still here.”
Mayor Craig Moe invited Cardin to the city and said his visit shows that politicians still care about local business owners.
“It sends a signal that we haven’t forgotten [local business owners],” Moe said.