As the COVID-19 crisis continues to threaten the viability of the shopping center industry as stores and restaurants close to help contain the spread of the virus, ICSC President and CEO, Tom McGee, has released the following statement:
"Government officials have appropriately placed the health and safety of our fellow citizens as their top priority while also taking decisive action to begin to address the financial and economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and the extraordinary actions taken by the Federal Reserve last week are historic in scope and were necessary first steps. However, given the enormous scale of this crisis, we believe a bolder step is needed to address the unprecedented economic challenges facing our nation. Without additional urgent federal action, long-term damage to the financial markets, rampant unemployment and irreparable harm to communities are a near certainty.
Today, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) joins a broad coalition of the business community, in advocating for the establishment of the COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund ("Recovery Fund"). The Recovery Fund would be underwritten by the federal government and operate under the authority of a special federal administrator. The federal administrator would be able to enter into contracts with interested businesses to manage the Recovery Fund and facilitate the distribution of funds and liquidity to impacted businesses. The requested relief would enable efforts to keep employees on the payroll, maintain worker benefits and meet debt and rent obligations. Strong anti-abuse provisions, such as audit requirements, would be included.
We believe the establishment of the Recovery Fund is the most holistic approach to address the economic impact of this crisis, without choosing industry winners or losers. The continuity of cash flow it would provide will allow businesses to maintain their employees and emerge better positioned to advance an economic recovery. It would also maintain the integrity of contractual obligations that underpin the smooth functioning of business activity and the confidence of those who invest in the U.S. economy. We believe this framework can assist all businesses impacted by COVID-19, regardless of size, industry or location.
ICSC, with a member network of nearly 70,000, represents owners, developers, financial institutions, professional service providers and importantly, shopping center tenants such as retailers, restaurants, gyms, health centers and service providers. Nearly 70 percent of shopping center tenants are small businesses that employ less than 10 people. The majority of the estimated $6.7 trillion of consumer activity generated by the retail, food-and-beverage, entertainment and consumer service industries occur within America’s shopping centers, with nearly 1 out of every 4 American jobs retail related.
The long-term strength of the shopping center industry is critical to the economic, civic and social viability of communities across the country. Without broad-based federal action, the impact of mandated closures put in place by federal, state and local officials will result in significant economic damage, empty storefronts and vacant shopping centers across the country, leaving communities in shambles.
We urge the federal government to establish the COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund and we stand ready to assist in in its implementation."
ICSC is the preeminent membership organization serving retail and real estate professionals. Our members believe ICSC’s unparalleled programs and services are the most efficient and effective way to develop relationships, facilitate transactions, share insights and shape public policy and perception. For more information about ICSC visit www.icsc.com.