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Small businesses worried about effects of "stay at home" order

downtown ann arbor
Katie Raymond
Michigan Radio

On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” order, or a “temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” The order urges Michiganders to stay home, with the exception of essential business, in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

For many, the order will mean changes to daily operations. If they haven’t already, businesses that can operate remotely must do so. If a business is deemed essential and needs to conduct in-person operations, it must determine which employees can work remotely and which are essential to in-person operations. 

Many small businesses are wondering how they’re going to make these necessary changes to daily operations. For some, this will mean a pivot to remote operations, but for others, it will mean closing their doors completely.

Brian Calley is the president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. He says the businesses likely to be hit the hardest are those in the service industry who are unable to operate remotely, and this will have a ripple effect, as those businesses use accountants and advertisers and other small businesses.


“These are not expendable members of the economic system, they are absolutely core, they are the backbone, and so we need to immediately start thinking about the type of assistance small business owners need.”

The federal government has approved up to $2 million in Economic Injury Disaster Relief loans. Calley says this is a good start, but many small businesses need solutions other than loans.


“I think a lot of our small businesses, unfortunately, are in a position where to reopen is almost like opening for the first time, because they just don't have the type of cash on hand to weather a crisis like this that is likely to last weeks or even a few months.”

Calley says he’s proud to see local businesses stepping up to the plate to aid in providing solutions related to COVID-19, like brewing companies making and distributing hand sanitizer. He hopes these efforts won’t be forgotten, even as the focus tends to be on bigger businesses.

“The giants of industry? They don’t get forgotten, but small businesses sometimes do in long-term relief efforts, and we can’t let that happen.”

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Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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