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Michigan man opens business, encourages others to do the same

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Erik Kiilunen, Go Fund Me Page
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A Michigan man is calling on business owners across the state to ignore executive orders and re-open their doors after doing the same with his.  Erik Kiilunen is an entrepreneur based in Ahmeet, a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where he owns two businesses. Having lost over $600,000 so far this year, Kiilunen says he reached a breaking point; he couldn’t wait any longer for the government to give him permission to open back up, so he took matters into his own hands, regardless of the consequences.

“If they want to come up and jail me, I will take one for the team,” Kiilunen said. “Right now I’m taking a calculated risk because I know that what I say is going to resonate in some people’s ears, they are going to sing it, and believe (in) it the way I do. The other ones are going to say, ‘my god, the guy is a charlatan.'”

Now through a successful kick-starter campaign, Kiilunen in the past week has raised tens of thousands of dollars from other business owners across the state, and he’s created the “All Business is Essential” campaign, putting up billboards in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit, that encourages business owners to follow suit, and open their doors.

“I don’t want to encourage a revolt, a riot, I don’t want any of that,” Kiilunen said. “Look, if you run a business, and you want to open your doors, you are doing nothing illegal by opening that business. They have no right to stop us from our pursuit of happiness.”

I asked Kiilunen, if what he is doing is reckless. Here is his response:

“I ask you--who is more reckless," he said. "I have got a hospital that laid off 1,100 employees. Those people have to eat.”

To be clear, Kiilunen is speaking about a local hospital near his home, not one of the two businesses that he owns in the U.P.  

And he is not alone in his actions. Unrelated, a 77-year-old barber from Owosso, Michigan also re-opened his business. According to the Associated Press, people drove nearly three hours to his salon to get a haircut.

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