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By Renee Summers
Telegram Reporter 

Support Local Small Businesses Now When They Need Us


Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a "Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives" order on Monday, March 23, and the order went into effect in our state the following day. The goal was to stop the spread of the coronavirus, while preventing the state's healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. The order also meant that Michigan businesses deemed "nonessential" were instructed to suspend in-person operations, with the exception of those in law enforcement, healthcare, and food handling and distribution, to name a few.

The order effectively shuttered thousands of small businesses which were not considered essential or were unable to operate remotely. These include salons, gyms, and small retail shops. Most restaurants, however, are able to continue operating with carry-out or delivery service.

Brian Calley is president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. Following issuance of the governors' order, he released a statement which said in part, "The COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing our state has ever seen and we appreciate Governor Whitmer's leadership and thoughtful approach to taking action during this crisis...Nothing about this situation is ideal but our focus has been on ensuring that a stay at home order is implemented in the least painful way possible for small businesses."

Calley addressed the stress placed on small businesses with limited operating capacity in a column he wrote for another local newspaper. Calley explained that small businesses account for about half of all jobs in Michigan, while being a supporting part of the communities they inhabit. Calley encourages residents to support local restaurants which are still open for carry-out or delivery, adding that it's a kindness to tip a little extra as restaurants have practically zero traffic at this time.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) says the restaurant industry lost an estimated $491 million in sales and more than 72,000 jobs in the first 22 days of March in Michigan alone. On average, restaurant operators reported a 43 percent decline in sales during the period from March 1 to March 22.

"There are more than 16,000 restaurants in this state," said MRLA President and CEO Justin Winslow. "Under the current circumstances, as many as one-third might not make it through without significant financial help and flexibility from our elected leaders."

Many restaurants have resorted to laying off employees, reducing employees' hours, and reducing hours of operation. "Restaurants make our lives better by creating spaces to join together with those we love and appreciate over a great meal," added Winslow. "If we want them to be there for us when this is over, they need our help now."


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