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Mail Delays, COVID-19 Endanger Nebraska Small Businesses


Monday, August 10, 2020   

OMAHA, Neb. -- Mail delays are putting pressure on small business owners in Nebraska, who rely on the U.S. Postal Service for crucial aspects of their operations.

The agency reports a $2.2 billion loss in this year's second quarter.

On Friday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced a major restructuring of USPS leadership, including the reassignment of the two top officials in charge of daily operations.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation last month with $25 billion for the postal service in the next coronavirus stimulus package.

Dana Osborne, who owns a wedding stationary design business in Omaha, says all this unpredictability is a challenge.

"I actually tell my couples, 'There are two things you can't control when it comes to your wedding, and that's the weather and the post office,'" she states.

The agency has made other operational changes to cut costs that mail carriers say will slow things down, including the reduction of overtime and orders to shut off sorting machines earlier. Changes also require carriers leave some mail behind to prevent running late on their routes.

Osborne maintains the Postal Service needs support, and says mail delays are only one reason this year has been tough on her business. She notes many couples have postponed or scaled back their weddings.

"I've worked so hard to get to this point, where I could own my own business and have a career that I love, and it's flexible for me and my family," she states. "And things like coronavirus and the post office being something that may break my business -- it's just heartbreaking to me."

Small businesses make up 99% of companies in Nebraska and employ about half of the workforce.

John McHugh, a former Republican U.S. representative from New York, is a spokesman for the Package Coalition, an alliance of retailers concerned about maintaining delivery service. He says without a stimulus, the USPS will run out of money -- and in turn, some small businesses will have to close.

"Thinking about the hope for economic recovery -- well, as tough as it's going to be, it'll be that much more difficult with these small businesses having to shutter their doors," McHugh states.

McHugh says he hopes enough lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will understand the severity of the situation, and take swift action to save the U.S Postal Service.

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