The city of Zeeland has stepped up in two ways to provide extra support to businesses hurt by the COVID-19 economic downturn.
First, Zeeland worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to provide $50,000 in grants to local small businesses. Next, the city and its utility, Zeeland Board of Public Works, doubled their contribution to Lakeshore Advantage so the organization could provide increased services to the community’s major employers.
“With many businesses experiencing negative economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, we feel our decision to double our contribution to Lakeshore Advantage is a solid investment in their services in order to ensure a full return to our strong local economic base,” explains City Manager Tim Klunder. “This is needed especially in a time when the current situation means others may not be in a position to invest in the important work of Lakeshore Advantage.”
10 grants total $50,000
Zeeland was one of 22 Michigan communities awarded a total of nearly $1 million aimed at supporting the COVID-19 economic recovery efforts of small local businesses. The grants were awarded through the expansion of MEDC’s Match on Main program, resulting in 299 small businesses around Michigan receiving assistance through the program.
Zeeland received the maximum amount of $50,000. The city funded 10 of 14 applications with the $50,000 MEDC grant that helped retain a total of 55 jobs.
Grant recipients were evaluated on a variety of criteria set by the MEDC and the city. The scoring process prioritized retail and restaurant establishments, businesses with 25 or fewer employees, some with low-moderate income status, and those which complement the Downtown Zeeland Vision Plan.
The money was distributed to the following downtown businesses:
$4,100 – Annie Lane Bridal, 152 E. Main
$6,600 – Out of the Box, 114 E. Main
$4,600 – Petcuts Grooming, 52 E. Main, Suite 3
$6,600 – The Salon Co., 119 E. Main
$4,100 – Drip, 150 E. Main
$6,600 – The Porch, 137 E. Main
$2,100 – Zeeland Dry Cleaners, 118 E. Washington
$6,600 – La Crème, 111 E. Main
$4,100 – Mom and Baby Again, 121 E. Main
$4,600 – DeVries Photography, 52 E. Main
The city and the BPW are also dramatically increasing financial support for Lakeshore Advantage, with Zeeland voting to increase its annual contribution from $22,500 to $45,000, and the BPW doubling its contribution from $25,000 to $50,000.
“Since its inception, Lakeshore Advantage has been, and continues to be, a tremendous leader and partner with the city on our economic development efforts,” says Klunder. “We are known for our strong industrial base that results in a vibrant economy and offers great jobs within our community.”
In order to determine the best way to support the area’s primary employers during this pandemic, Lakeshore Advantage conducted quick polls to quantify COVID-19 impact on local businesses. More than 500 businesses from Allegan and Ottawa counties responded to eight quick polls and proactive outreach by the Lakeshore Advantage team.
“Data from the quick polls shows that 91% of area companies have experienced a revenue decrease as a result of COVID-19, and we recognize some of our private-sector investors will be facing revenue constraints,” says Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens. “We are very grateful for the city of Zeeland and Zeeland Board of Public Works’ increased support, and we are hopeful that investors who are in a position to do so will join the city of Zeeland and Zeeland Board of Public Works in increasing their support.“
Support, education, training
The quick poll data and information gathered through more than 300 one-on-one interactions with employers laid the foundation for new support, education, and training from the Lakeshore Advantage team during COVID-19:
- Webinar Series: Lakeshore Advantage launched a digital education series, which educated more than 1,500 attendees on new programs, workplace requirements, and restrictions.
- Michigan Small Business Relief and Grant Program Administration: More than 850 applications were received and reviewed by the Lakeshore Advantage team and nine local chambers of commerce. The result was 31 small businesses were funded through the program, with an additional five receiving loan support.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Navigation: More than 125 PPE resource connections were made by the Lakeshore Advantage team during the pandemic.
- COVID-19 Web Platform: A new webpage at lakeshoreadvantage.com/covid-19 was launched. This led to an 825% increase in web traffic during the pandemic. The COVID-19 business resources webpage was updated daily and included an online Return to Work Toolkit with guidelines for returning to work safely for employers by industry that has been accessed more than 2,700 times.
“We are the megaphone for our region, ensuring area business leaders’ concerns are heard. It has been an honor and a privilege to support employers in good times and through crisis,” says Owens. “Our team’s activity, one-on-one interactions, and programming tripled from our typical outreach during this pandemic.”