Meridian Township Aids Local Businesses Amidst Public Health Crisis
Photo Credit: Coco's Off the Rack
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - The Meridian Township Economic Development Corporation (EDC) awarded 105 grants to local businesses through the Small Business Relief Program. This was the second round of grants given out since the start of the pandemic – the first round was issued in July of last year, and the second round’s awardees were just announced on Jan. 8.
Each recipient can receive up to $7,000. The EDC reviewed each business’s application and determined how much money to give out accordingly. The goal was to provide support to local businesses that have been financially affected by COVID-19.
One grant recipient was Uptown Sun Company, located on Haslett Road. The company offers tanning services, including self-tanning in beds and booths and custom spray tans. Hanna Beiler, the manager at Uptown Sun Company, said that they were greatly affected by the shutdown last March.
“The shutdown took a good, at least 70% of our yearly revenue,” Beiler said. “Then obviously once we did open it was a lot less low.”
Although business has been improving as restrictions get partially lifted, there are still certain factors that affect the normal flow of tanning sessions. Beiler mentioned that one factor that affected usual business is the cancellation of events like prom and weddings. She hopes that the grant will help cover some of these losses.
“We’re in a plaza, so we rent our location – hopefully it is allowed to be used there,” Beiler said. “We have some of our beds that need new bulbs from ones that are burnt out, and we obviously need supplies. But it will mostly go toward payroll and rent.”
Putting prom and weddings on hold raised challenges for another local business, one that specializes in those types of events. Coco’s Off the Rack, located in East Lansing, is a bridal shop that sells special occasion dresswear. The shop’s manager Kayce Shepard said that business has not been steady for a long time.
“Last weekend was the first Saturday since the start of the pandemic that we had appointments all day,” she said. “It was kind of surreal and strange.”
Shepard said that since they have overhead costs like the rent for their lease, the grant will be helpful to keep up on all their expenses.
“There’s so many things there is a need of," Shepard said. “You have staff you’re hoping you’re able to cover, and the overhead of the lease and things like that.”
Even while being faced with new challenges, Shepard is grateful for the effort she is seeing come from the community and local officials.
“I will say I think they are doing what they can with what they have,” she said. “I can only imagine what they are dealing with. I have no issues or angsts with that. We are in a position where we are all trying to hold on.”
To see a full list of the grant recipients, visit https://www.meridian.mi.us and look under the “businesses” tab.