From Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber
The calendar year 2020 has been a hard year for everyone, especially small business owners, entrepreneurs, and our regional workforce.
The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce (SWCRC) has worked tirelessly to bring critical information and resources to Downriver’s job providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The SWCRC is tackling the biggest challenges businesses continue to face, such as understanding rapidly changing guidelines and governmental orders, moving traditional office jobs to remote platforms, and helping business owners find the latest loan and grant opportunities.
Small businesses had numerous unexpected expenses running their businesses this year that was not in their budget. Many small business employers previously did not have to provide personal protective equipment for themselves and their employees until this year.
To protect our entire community, employers have spent thousands of dollars on masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to safely and responsibly operate their businesses during the ongoing crisis. Many business owners also needed to invest in new equipment to expand their business to accommodate social distancing guidelines and indoor capacity restrictions.
The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development (LEO) is offering Weatherization Grants for qualified small business owners who have needed to invest in temporary structures to promote social distancing with outdoor equipment such as extra tables and chairs, portable heaters, igloos and tents and more. Applications may be made for expenses purchased between Aug. 1, 2020 and Dec. 30, 2020.
Small businesses can be awarded grants between $1,000 to $10,000. Commercial property owners and municipalities will be considered for grants of up to $15,000.
Loan and grant opportunities are vital to support small business owners, but they are not enough to keep businesses afloat.
With the added regulations that went into place on Nov. 18, 2020, by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, businesses find themselves again having to navigate through difficult closures and restrictions.
Many businesses cannot be converted into a remote platform to perform operations. Retailers are now restricted to 30 percent capacity during the biggest shopping season of the year. Bars and restaurants are now forced to shutter indoor dining services, missing out on the most popular nights of the year when people go out and reconnect with family and friends.
Many people see these businesses struggle and wonder what they can do to help. It’s up to us as the consumer to choose where we spend our money. If we want to continue to see the Downriver region grow and thrive, it is more critical now more than ever to shop locally.
As it is true that we must all work together to protect our community from this dangerous virus, we must also remember to support our region’s small businesses and job providers, who are hurting significantly and are facing difficult decisions in the days to come.
When you spend money locally, the money stays locally. Small business owners take part in our community not just as an entrepreneur, but as a neighbor, a friend, or a family member.
Let’s continue to grow Downriver into a vibrant community and support those employers that make Downriver and Southern Wayne County such a great place to live, work, and play. I am confident that we can support our region’s businesses safely and responsibly, while also keeping our community safe.
The Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce asks consumers to support your local community this holiday season and beyond.
Instead of buying a new video game, consider platinum membership to Rev’d Up Fun in Woodhaven. Over the next few weeks, support our locally-owned restaurants and order takeout or delivery from eateries like Bierkeller in Taylor. Mask up and shop at retailers like Chelsea’s Menswear and The Willow Tree in Wyandotte, or Kevin James Menswear in Trenton and experience a more personal touch when choosing an outfit.
Take a break from streaming services and engage in a one-on-one virtual theatre performance with Open Book Theatre Company in Trenton.
Purchases like these may be small to you, but they make a huge difference to a small business owner and our local economy.
Let’s come together and continue to build our local economy. When you take part in shopping locally this holiday season and beyond, be sure to post about your adventure on social media and use the hashtag #SupportDownriver.
Visit our website at SWCRC.com/SupportDownriver to find out more about our Support Downriver campaign and how the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber of Commerce is committed to coming together and making sure Downriver continues to flourish.