GreenTree Cooperative Grocery selected as the first recipient of Make it Mt. Pleasant

Although Make it Mt. Pleasant kicked off in January 2020, with the onset of the pandemic, many business owners weren’t looking to expand or open a new business.

GreenTree Cooperative Grocery, which is currently undergoing an expansion project into Broadway Lofts at 410 W. Broadway, was selected as the first recipient for the rental subsidy program, which is managed by the City of Mt. Pleasant and fully funded by Lake Trust Credit Union.

“They support local farmers and do a lot of local sourcing, so it really seemed like a great opportunity from multiple facets,” says Justin Haun, Business Development Manager at Lake Trust Credit Union. “Not only is it great for GreenTree themselves, but really it's great for that community because they're able to expand, offer more, and continue to support more of the local economy by working with those farmers and the local businesses.”

Sarah Christensen, General Manager of GreenTree, says that she is excited about the creation of the program.

“Being a community-owned grocery store and they [Lake Trust] being a credit union — we’re similarly structured where care or concern for community is a part of both of our values,” says Christensen. “I can see other businesses benefiting in the future, and the application process is easy and straightforward.”

Make it Mt. Pleasant supports up to two new businesses or expansions to existing businesses per year that provide retail, art, dining, or entertainment options in downtown Mt. Pleasant.

“It's not just a program for new businesses, but also for businesses who've already chosen to be in the downtown area and are expanding and growing. As you continue to build on your commitment to being here, you're able to participate in this very unique program,” says Kati Mora, Vice President of the Middle Michigan Development Corporation (MMDC) which provided early feedback on the program and is a resource for potential entrepreneurs.

Haun says that Lake Trust implemented a similar program in downtown Howell, and after seeing its success, they identified Mt. Pleasant and Lansing as other areas of opportunity to make an impact.

“When you look at downtown regions, they’re such a lifeline of the community,” says Haun. “We believe that by having vibrant downtowns it's going to draw more people to that community and create stronger communities.”

The maximum amount that any business will be granted over the course of a year will be $4,200.

“That felt right when we looked at what our rental costs were compared to other communities such as St Clair Shores or Birmingham, which would be wildly different from us,” says Michelle Sponseller, Downtown Development Director for the City of Mt. Pleasant. “We sat down and were trying to figure out what that sweet spot was. We also have a waiver of a variety of fees and charges, building permits, sign permits, and things like that that we can help bring to the table on top of just the financial piece of it.”

Interested entrepreneurs can apply at any time. For more information on guidelines or to apply for the program, visit
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Read more articles by Liz Fredendall.

Liz Fredendall is a photojournalist and communications professional with experience working with nonprofits. In addition to her work with Epicenter, Liz manages communications for the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, runs her own photography business, and writes for several publications. During her free time, Liz enjoys reading and exploring with her husband Erick and their Corgi, Nori. Contact or follow her on social media @lizfredendallphoto.