It took longer than it might have to get established, but good that Oak Park has formed a Business Recovery Task Force. The village board-appointed ad hoc group includes small business owners, a major property owner, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, along with two village trustees and unspecified village staff.

We are supportive of the health-first approach that Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb took when COVID-19 first revealed itself. Oak Park was a leader in the state on its stay-at-home order. And Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s phased reopening of Illinois seems nothing but prudent to us.

But our local economy will re-open gradually and it will be painful, uneven, and not without permanent casualties. It is critical to assess its current moribund state, identifying the complex challenges and negotiating a rebound that will be more like rusty water spitting from the spigot than the metaphor of just turning on the faucet.

A first meeting last week surfaced worries over access to capital, protecting the safety of customers, providing child care, and understanding the still-evolving regs tied to federal PPP loans. The committee promises fast turnaround on immediate goals and priorities. 

This is a critical mission.

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