Governor Signs Directive to help Small Businesses in Opportunity Zones

Friday, Governor Whitmer signed a directive that will give more opportunities to businesses in disadvantaged areas.

A partial map of the state’s opportunity zones.

The state Department of Technology, Management and Budget will start making purchases with mom and pop shops in areas deemed “opportunity zones”. The department will adopt policies to buy supplies, materials, insurance, utilities, equipment, printing and services like construction, alteration, repair, and demolition.

The opportunity zones reflect areas throughout the state that have stagnant economic growth, limited or no state funding, decreasing populations, and low income residents. In Northern Michigan, those areas include parts of Mancelona, Kalkaska County, Fife Lake, South Boardman, Mio, Traverse City, Montmorency County, Gladwin and more.

Kyle Williams and his father own Midway Outdoor Supply in Fife Lake. Williams says it’s a good idea, considering sometimes business can be a little slow in his neighborhood.

“There’s no draw out here because we are in the country,” said Williams. “It would be nice to have more people come up this way and check us out, business is going up…but I still think we need help up here.”

30 minutes west of William’s shop is Image 360, a printing and signage company on the industrial side of Traverse City. They say their area needs some economic stimulation, too.

“This whole area doesn’t have a lot of walk-in business really,” said O.B. Fearnow, who works at Image 360. “There’s not a restaurant or any reason to come over here and hang out.”

He and his coworkers are surrounded by industrial business. The street is not exactly walk-able like Downtown Traverse city.

“I just noticed that a lot of businesses are closing in the neighborhood and that’s not good,” said Jenna Dagen who works at Image 360.

With Governor Whitmer’s new directive, the hope is that businesses like Image 360 and Midway Outdoor Supply can have some new business from the state itself.

“Every little bit of help will help,” said Williams.

To read Governor Whitmer’s full initiative, click here.

To see the map of all of Michigan’s opportunity zones click here.