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Businesses struggle under extended closing

Businesses struggle under extended closing

by Judy Reed

Busy Moms Bakery is one local business that continues to see good customer turnout during the stay-at-home order. Here, 3-year-old Maverick Hunt enjoys a tasty donut while out on a walk to get some fresh air. Photo by Rachel Hunt.

A temporary closure that was only supposed to be until just after Easter has now been extended until the end of May, according a recent executive order signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Executive Order 2020-69 extends her previous order that temporarily closes certain places of public accommodation such as theaters, bars, casinos, and more. In order to maintain social distancing the order also limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders.

“Although we are beginning to see the curve flatten, we are not out of the woods yet,” said Whitmer. “We must all continue to be diligent, observe social distancing and limit in-person interactions and services to slowthe spread of COVID-19.”

It’s been tough for many businesses here in Cedar Springs and the surrounding areas. Those that are considered essential—such as those that serve food—have taken a big hit. Some closed temporarily immediately, such as Classic Kelly’s and Big Boy. Others opted to stay open and try to do take out. Cedar Rock Café on 14 Mile Rd couldn’t sustain their business and closed their doors permanently.

Some businesses have been thrown a lifeline. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday that more than 2,700 small businesses around Michigan have been awarded a total of $10 million in grants by local economic development organizations through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program. The grants under the Michigan Small Business Relief Program are intended to support businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce and may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

In addition to the $10 million in grant funds, the Michigan Strategic Fund also approved $10 million in loans through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program that are being referred to the MEDC from the local EDO partners. Those loan applications are currently being reviewed by a loan review committee including the Chief Business Development Officer and Senior Vice President of Business Development Projects as referrals are made from local EDO partners. All loans made through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program will be approved through Michigan Strategic Fund delegated authority and announced as they are finalized.

Red Bird Bistro, a relatively new business in Cedar Springs, applied for both a grant and a loan. “I received a grant but they are still processing my loan application,” said owner Jody Arp. They are one of the downtown businesses doing take out. We asked how business was going. “We are just trying to survive this,” she said.

We also spoke with the Cedar Springs Brewing Company, who has been doing take-out, delivery, and putting some of their product in area supermarkets. We asked owner David Ringler how business was going and if he’d applied for any of the loans.

“We’re treading water, thanks to the amazing support of our community, which we appreciate greatly,” said Ringler. “We’re focused on diligent safety procedures, takeout, local delivery and catering at the present time and we’re doing our best to be here when we get back to normal,’ whatever the new normal may be,” he explained.

“We’ve applied for anything we thought was a fit, but most of these programs are ill-designed for hospitality and simply do not fit well…or they add debt, which is a separate issue for any small business,” remarked Ringler.

At least one new business in Cedar Springs is seeing a good flow of customers. “We are actually doing okay,” explained Tom Wilkes, owner of Moms Busy Bakery. “No real change in our pace. As long as things stay as they are we should be just fine.” He said that they did not apply for any of the loans.

The news media is also considered essential, and the Post, your local newspaper, is surviving week by week on advertising by the local businesses. We appreciate any support you can give us during this tough time, and hope readers will patronize the businesses seen on our pages.

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