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Michigan leaders encourage residents to support local shops

Shopping bag photo
Marsupilami | Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0

State leaders are asking Michigan residents to beat lines and avoid crowds by shopping at local small businesses on Black Friday.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is encouraging shopping, eating and traveling locally through a new “Support Local” campaign in order to make sure small businesses make it through the winter. One in five jobs in Michigan are in the retail industry, according to the Michigan Retailers Association.

It says that in 2017, Michigan residents spent $18.5 billion on out-of-state retailers. If residents switched one in every 10 out-of-state purchases to local stores, the state would increase by $1.2 billion in economic activity, which could create 10,600 new jobs.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been encouraging residents to support local and small businesses that have been hit hardest by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now more than ever, small businesses in Pure Michigan need your support. By staying local, you can help Michigan workers, businesses, and communities thrive this season while enjoying the holidays and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list,” Whitmer said in a statement.

Michigan businesses, being in a northern state, are at a disadvantage to expand outdoors this winter to accommodate social distancing and comply with health orders, said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan. They are being creative with providing curbside pickups and personal shoppers, but they need help more than ever, he said.

“We need to kind of get back to this let’s support our local businesses mindset, because they’re the ones that are keeping our downtown’s vibrant, they’re the ones that are employing our kids and our neighbors and ourselves,” Lorenz said.

It’s about making small choices to support the local businesses that support your community, Lorenz said about the “Support Local” campaign. Using social media billboards, the campaign is set to run Monday through March 31 in collaboration with the Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Retailers Association and the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association, along with several other groups.

In order to promote confidence in consumers, Pure Michigan has created a list of Michigan businesses that have taken a pledge to maintain disinfecting and social distancing protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, 438 businesses have taken the pledge.