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East Lansing City Council talks COVID-19 support for local businesses

December 9, 2020
Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020.
Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

During the East Lansing City Council discussion only meeting on Tuesday, council members heard from Community and Economic Development Administrator Adam Cummins and Amy Schlusler-Schmitt, community development and engagement manager, on how to support businesses during the pandemic.

Both Cummins and Schlusler-Schmitt discussed some upcoming programs including e-gift cards for downtown businesses, a business pop-up art exhibit and a TikTok challenge.

Starting Friday, Dec. 11 residents of East Lansing can go online and purchase e-gift cards, which they can use at various businesses downtown. The city will be offering an additional $20 when you buy at least a $50 gift card.

"I think that during this time of COVID, especially people are really cognizant of supporting its local merchant community," Schlusler-Schmitt said. "And we really feel that this is an exceptional way to be able to do that. The Downtown Management Board really felt that way as well. And so they have provided $3,000 in specific funding to give additional promotions to individuals that purchase the gift cards."

During the meeting, Schlusler-Schmitt also mentioned a TikTok challenge scheduled to begin on Jan. 15, 2021.

"So, the other thing I wanted to share was information about the TikTok challenge," Schlusler-Schmitt said. "So, I don't know how many of you have social media accounts. But TikTok is apart of a social platform. And the intent of this is to really engage a wide range of community members. And the way that this will work is that we will host a variety of challenges for several weeks."

Council members all voiced their support for these new programs, including Mayor Aaron Stephens who asked council members to all purchase e-gift cards as well as participate in the TikTok challenge.

"I think this, this is a program I'm really excited about," Stephens said. "Because I am constantly in conversations especially, I had a conversation at the governor's office today, which is why even mentioned the (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) grants that are out there for small businesses, just on the limited ability, we have to continue to support our businesses during this time."

Cummins also highlighted the importance to support small businesses, especially those who are unable to open due to safety restrictions.

"We're working really hard to have like a multi faceted approach to solving these problems, these challenges that we've been encountering since COVID-19," Cummins said. "We're really trying to engage the permanent residents of East Lansing, engage them in the process and design programming that's going to meet their needs. And so we're going to continue to plug away, things are going to continue to evolve."


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