The Christmas shopping season is in the rear-view mirror but we need to continue to keep a focus on supporting local shops, restaurants and small businesses.

That is especially true for local businesses in downtown Easton and St. Michaels.

We all know how hard 2020 has been on local businesses, restaurants and their employees. We also know the challenges we are facing to start 2021.

That’s why we need to redouble our efforts to support local businesses in Easton, St. Michaels, Cambridge and other towns across the Shore.

The Easton Economic Development Corp., for example, has launched a new gift card program that can be used at downtown Easton shops, galleries and restaurants.

The Downtown Easton Gift Card very much deserves community support going forward. The cards can be used at participating local businesses and restaurants in the heart of our community. It encourages us to shop local and support our hometown entrepreneurs, restauranteurs and artists who make Easton a creative and cool place to live and visit.

Many small businesses, especially restaurants, are on the brink. They need the long overdue help from the federal government. They need help from Annapolis. We also need to stop having our small businesses and restaurants face the brunt of coronavirus restrictions while big-box stores are left unencumbered.

We need to be doing everything right now as a community to support our local businesses and efforts, such as the Easton gift cards. We also need to be supportive of the EEDC’s creative and innovative efforts on these fronts.

The group has taken the helm of the town’s economic development efforts. We hope to see even more creativity from the EEDC as we head into 2021.

We also need the town to make sure it is thinking of existing local businesses and the jobs they produce with all its decisions.

The town and our business community also need to be energetically supportive of the EEDC’s efforts to attract new jobs and businesses to the area. New business attraction has to be a top priority across the Eastern Shore.

All the problems and upheavals of 2020 have also created opportunities for small businesses, entrepreneurs and their employees.

More professional, creative and technical workers have flexibility to work remotely from home. We all see the stresses of living in New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and other big cities.

Easton, Talbot County and the Mid-Shore offer a better and less expensive quality of life.

Having vibrant downtowns with cool shops and restaurants in Easton and St. Michaels adds to our appeal.

Helping our existing local businesses not only preserves jobs and tax revenue, it will help us expand our economy and tourism sectors.

We very much need all of the above as we head into 2021.

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