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New pharmacy opens

Cedar Springs residents now have a new option when it comes to choosing a local pharmacy. The Cedar Springs Pharmacy, located in the White Creek plaza at 14111 White Creek Ave., opened their new business and held a ribbon cutting last month.

“This small, locally owned pharmacy will provide personalized care and service that is unmatched,” said owner Jodi Maki. “We will support you in your healthcare journey as if you were family. We will strive to keep things quick and convenient. It is only 15 steps from the parking lot to our counter—or you can stay in your car and we’ll come to you!”

One of the things that makes this store unique is that the owner is the pharmacist. Maki has resided in Cedar Springs for 15 years, and she will be the one serving patients and customers each day.

They provide prescription services, non-prescription medications, vitamins, supplements, healthcare items, special order items, immunizations (including flu shots, shingles vaccines, and tetanus boosters), curbside pickup, medication reviews, and medication synchronization. They also carry a small assortment of Michigan made candles and gifts, and 99-cent made in the USA greeting cards.

“Our future plan is to become the pharmacy of choice for the Cedar Springs community,” said Maki, especially those seeking a pharmacist who gets to know them and their specific healthcare needs.”

Stop in and see them today at 14111 White Creek Avenue. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and closed on Sunday. Or call them at (616) 439-2779.

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Social Security announces 1.3 percent benefit increase for 2021

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020.  (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).  The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700.  

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount.  Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account.  People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.     

Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.  For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced.  Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

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Counselors to America’s small businesses

Establish a line of credit to manage the unexpected

A line of credit, sometimes called revolving debt, enables a company to draw against a pool of money as it needs to. That line of credit is invaluable for protecting your business from emergencies and stalled cash flow because it extends the cash available in the business checking account to the upper limit of the loan contract. Essentially, the line of credit is assurance by a bank that as long as your company is financially healthy, it can borrow money whenever it needs to.

This form of short-term borrowing is an excellent way to establish a relationship with a bank and demonstrate the creditworthiness of your business-especially if you have but don’t use the line of credit. Moreover, by virtue of having this relationship, your banker can become a sort of silent partner, giving business operation advice as well as money.

You’ll find many variables in a line of credit, such as the period of time (short or intermediate), whether it is renewable or nonrenewable, and whether it has a fixed or fluctuating rate of interest.

A short-term line of credit typically is 60 to 120 days, whereas an intermediate-term line may be as short as one year or as long as three. You’re most likely to want the line of credit to purchase inventory and to pay operating costs-not to purchase equipment or real estate.

To negotiate a credit line with your bank, prepare to hand over your current financial statements, latest tax returns, and a statement of projected cash flow.

What collateral will you use to secure your loan? You’ll need more than the assets you may be purchasing with it, such as the company’s accounts receivable, equipment, and real estate. The loan agreement and related documents will be designed to ensure that your loan payments are on time and have priority over noncritical expenses, dividends and employee bonuses.

This is a key point for avoiding confusion and resentment over what your bank is willing to do for you. Some small business owners think the loan officer doesn’t understand their business requirements. At the same time, the loan officer doesn’t think the borrower is making realistic projections for anticipated cash flow, profitability, and the like.

As loans go, banks tend to view line-of-credit loans as low risk, so they carry the lowest interest rate. The bank may reserve the right to cancel the loan if it thinks your business is in jeopardy.  You’ll make interest payments monthly, regardless of when you expect to pay off the principal. For an annual fee, most banks will allow one-year lines of credit to renew almost automatically. However, they may require the credit line to be fully paid off for between seven and 30 days each contract year.

To learn more about lines of credit, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” More than 35 volunteer business counselors in the Grand Rapids SCORE office donate their time to consult with and mentor entrepreneurs (In person or Virtual). Contact the Grand Rapids SCORE office at 616/771-0305 or go to www.scoregr.org.

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Lume Cannabis receives preliminary approval

By Judy Reed

Photo from lume.com.

Lume Cannabis, the recreational marijuana business seeking to set up shop in the building at 16 N. Main Street—currently the home of Vitale’s Pizza—received preliminary approval for their venture from the Cedar Springs Planning Commission earlier this month.

“That final approval is subject to Zoning Administrator approval after they submit some additional information,” City Manager Mike Womack told the Post.

John Gregory, chief marketing officer for Lume, answered some questions this week from the Post about the business.

How many Lume stores are there? “We currently have 11 stores open across the state and we are aiming to have 20 by year end,” said Gregory.

What products will they carry? Lume stores carry a wide-range of high-quality cannabis products and accessories and a unique, customer-focused retail experience with more than 20 strains of high-quality Lume flower, pre-rolls, effects-based Lume Cartridges, edibles and a new line of CBD products available online at lume-cbd.com and in Lume stores,” explained Gregory. “For a full product listing, visit www.lume.com.”

How will the process of buying your products work? “In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lume gives customers the option of shopping in-store, doing curbside pick-up or using Lume Delivery, Lume’s discreet home delivery service. We hope to launch Lume Delivery in Cedar Springs, which is already available at 10 of Lume’s stores, shortly after opening.”

Some people are worried about a family movie theater being right next door. What would you say to allay their fears? “We have no concerns with being located near a family movie theater,” said Gregory. “We currently operate 11 stores around the state and we have not had any issues with marketing or selling to minors. We are thoughtfully designed to prevent any sightlines into our stores and have a premium aesthetic that makes us part of the community, not an eyesore.”

What will security be like? “We work with a well-known third-party security company that helps ensure we are using industry-leading security protocols that eliminate public safety concerns,” he explained.

Do your shops get involved in the community? “At Lume we take great pride in contributing to the improvement of all the communities we serve,” remarked Gregory. “From making and providing lunch and donating N-95 masks to frontline workers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to making scholarship donations to graduating seniors for a local high school, we strive to be good neighbors in every community we enter.”

What is your timeline projection to open? “We’re actively working to open in Cedar Springs as soon as possible, however, at this time there is no concrete timeline for opening,” he said.

For more information on Lume, visit them online at lume.com.

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Family Video closes

Family Video, at the corner of Muskegon and Main Streets in Cedar Springs, has closed its doors. 

Colleen White made the announcement on Facebook in August.

“It is with a saddened heart that I post this. Family Video of Cedar Springs (our location only) is permanently closing. Our last day for rentals is August 24th (receiving new releases through August 18th). Our last day open will be September 4th. Currently all items/sections with a price tag are for sale. Thank you, Cedar Springs, for all the fabulous years our company has had been allowed to serve you!”

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Paving scam targeting western Michigan residents

A recent report to the BBB Scamtracker has the Better Business Bureau® Serving Western Michigan (BBB) reminding homeowners to use caution when dealing with door to door driveway paving offers. A woman from Remus in Mecosta County recently reported a visit that appears to be a scam. She says a man going by the name of Angelo George came to her door with an offer to pave her driveway. This woman wisely asked for more information about the company and was given Angelo’s business card. The company identifies itself as A&G Paving, which Angelo says is based out of Big Rapids. The card includes the BBB Logo and a toll-free phone number. The woman refused to sign up on the spot, and instead said she would look into it and get back with him. The BBB has been unable to locate A&G Paving in Big Rapids or anywhere else in Western Michigan. There is no company by that name accredited with the Better Business Bureau. In addition, the phone number on the business card goes to an automated message selling medical alert systems. 

“This woman did the right thing, and probably avoided being scammed out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” says Phil Catlett, President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “Never feel pressured to buy something on the spot. Instead, take some time and do your homework on the company. Make sure you are dealing with a business you can trust.”

Itinerant paving scams like this are common in the summer months. A salesperson goes door to door offering a good deal on driveway repair. Often they say they did a job nearby and have leftover material. They often demand payment before the work is completed. Once paid, the workers leave the job unfinished. The work that was completed is often substandard and costs the homeowner additional money to repair. Often the information on business cards and promotional material is fake, making it impossible to contact the company or seek restitution.

“This scam only works if customers agree to do the work right away,” says Catlett. “By taking your time and doing your research, you can avoid the problems that come with this scam and find a trustworthy local business that will do the work the right way.”

You can always research companies at bbb.org. The BBB also offers the free Get A Quote feature, which will send customers up to three quotes from BBB Accredited businesses. 

You can learn more about paving scams and how to avoid them at  https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/22795-bbb-scam-alert-need-a-new-driveway-look-out-for-asphalt-scams.

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Build wealth by investing in your own company

As your business matures, the time will come when you will see excess cash and steady profits. Then the question arises of how to further increase the profits of your company. The stock market in recent years has been particularly unkind to the large companies that invested heavily in it. So plowing your profits back into your company may be the shrewdest move you can make in good times.

Lowering your overhead is a logical place to start, particularly if your rental payments keep going up. That may suggest to you that it’s time to buy your current building or look for one to purchase, so that you acquire a manageable mortgage that costs you less per month than renting. And once the space is yours, you can design the layout that will best maximize productivity. Longer term, you benefit from having the value of the building on your balance sheet and may be able to protect some of your profits from taxes due to the depreciation allowance.

Another approach to building value for your company is taking advantage of down markets to buy additional inventory-taking advantage of volume discounts and discounts at the end of a supplier’s selling season-or acquire better equipment. The latter approach might include computerized and electronic systems that can improve internal processes-again enhancing productivity.

However, another use for excess cash is to invest in financial instruments. You may decide, for example, that excess funds are best kept in treasury bills or certificates of deposit (if you can keep them there at least 90 days). Most likely, with available funds in excess of $100,000, you can make transfers between your checking account and your interest bearing investment account, despite the limit on the number of checks you can draw on the interest bearing account.

Lastly, you may want to consider acquiring a smaller company as a way of growing your business and expanding market share. If you go this route, prepare to learn more about business valuation at the same time you’re scrutinizing such assets as property, equipment and inventory, to be sure you really need them.

To learn more about sound financial management practices for your business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization with more than 35 volunteer business counselors in Grand Rapids who provide free, confidential advice. Note Score now uses Zoom For the Grand Rapids Chapter of SCORE, call1-(616) 771-0305, or find a counselor online at www.scoregr.org.

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Hotel now open

People in Cedar Springs have waited a long time for a place that their business associates, and extended family and friends could come and stay while they visit. The good news is that the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Cedar Springs – Grand Rapids N, located at 14190 White Creek Avenue NE, is now open.

The hotel has easy access off US-131, and corporate travelers to area businesses will benefit from their complimentary high-speed wireless, on-site fitness facility, and free parking. They also have on site business center, meeting room, and printer and copier for business needs.

There are 76 guest rooms in the hotel. All rooms include a microwave, fridge, Keurig, and 50-inch smart television, as well as an in room safe. Full or continental breakfast is included; kids eat free. There is no onsite restaurant, but plenty in the area to choose from. There is also an indoor pool. Check with management about availability during pandemic.

The hotel is also dog-friendly (max 2). Dogs must be registered at time of booking by calling the hotel directly at 1-616-696-0450.

To check availability of rooms, go to their website at https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/cedar-springs/grrcs/hoteldetail

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Ask SCORE: Read between the lines of your balance sheet

For newcomers to business, a balance sheet may appear at first to be a complex and confusing collection of numbers. However, this financial statement contains valuable information for assessing the health of your company and making decisions on which direction to take.

A balance sheet is like a snapshot of your company at a single moment in time. The balance sheet shows how the capital within your business is distributed over the various accounts. A surplus of assets over liabilities indicates profitability. If the statement shows more liabilities than assets, however, your company is at a loss position–not necessarily cause for alarm, depending on the longer trend. For example,  a business  may have a month with high expenses and a net loss that may be more than offset by five months of profitability. On the other hand, three consecutive losing months should prompt the owner to make serious decisions about how to overcome the negative cash position.

Compare balance sheets over a period of time for the big picture of your assets and liabilities. By comparing these on an item-by-item basis, you can spot trends that will affect your firm’s overall financial health. For example, larger quantities of merchandise on hand from one period to another may reflect a decision to buy ahead because of continuing inflation. Receivables may show a continuing upward trend when collection of outstanding accounts exceeds 30 days. Debts may run higher when the firm expands or makes capital improvements.

Much like the balance sheet, the profit and loss statement (or operating statement) totals the result of operations over a selected time period. This statement will show sales volume, cost incurred and the amount of profit or loss. Comparing the monthly or quarterly profit and loss statements can be revealing. Why was there a lower gross profit for several quarters? Did price cuts decrease per sale profitability? Was a higher proportion of sales spent on operating costs such as personnel, rent or insurance?  Are overhead costs increasing routinely?

Do not rely solely on your accountant for advice and guidance in understanding your balance sheet. As the decision-maker for your company, you need a clear understanding of how to read, interpret and act on financial information.  For assistance, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization having more than 35 volunteer counselors in Grand Rapids who provide free and confidential business  advice to veteran entrepreneurs and those just starting out. For the Grand Rapids Chapter office of SCORE, call 1-616/771-0305, or find a counselor online at www.scoregr.org. Rockford Chamber of Commerce 1-616/866-2000.

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State income tax refunds must be claimed within four years

LANSING, Mich. Michigan taxpayers who missed the July 15 state individual income tax filing deadline have options for filing a late return, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

“Taxpayers who missed last week’s individual income tax filing deadline have options,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “If you have an outstanding tax debt and cannot make full payment, we will work with you on payment options. Our goal is to help taxpayers limit interest charges and late payment penalties.”

Treasury recommends past-due tax filers to consider:

  • Filing a return to claim an outstanding refund. Taxpayers risk losing their state income tax refund if they don’t file a return within four years from the due date of the original return. Go to www.michigan.gov/mifastfile to learn more about e-filing.
  • Filing a return to avoid interest and penalties. File past due returns and pay now to limit interest charges and late payment penalties. Failure to pay could affect a taxpayer’s credit score and the ability to obtain loans.
  • Paying as much tax as possible. If taxpayers have to pay outstanding taxes but can’t pay in full, they should pay as much as they can when they file their tax returns. Payments can be made using Michigan’s e-Payments service. When mailing checks, carefully follow tax form instructions. Treasury will work with taxpayers who cannot pay the full amount of tax they owe.

Taxpayers who receive a final tax bill and are unable to pay the entire amount owed can consider:

  • Requesting a penalty waiver. Penalty may be waived on an assessment if a taxpayer can show reasonable cause for their failure to pay on time. Reasonable cause includes serious illness, a fire or natural disaster, or criminal acts against you. Documentation should be submitted to substantiate the reason for a penalty waiver request.
  • Making monthly payments through an installment agreement. For Installment Agreements lasting for 24 months or less, taxpayers must complete, sign and return the Installment Agreement (Form 990). The agreement requires a proposed payment amount that will be reviewed for approval by Treasury.
  • Filing an Offer in Compromise application. An Offer in Compromise is a request by a taxpayer for the Michigan Department of Treasury to compromise an assessed tax liability for less than the full amount. For more information or an application, visit www.michigan.gov/oic.

The last three options for final tax bills should be filed separately from the state income tax return.

To learn more about Michigan’s income tax, go to www.michigan.gov/incometax or call Treasury’s Income Tax Information Line at 517-636-4486. Taxpayer inquires can also be made online.

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