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Column: Here is what I would like for Christmas

ESCANABA — As we are reaching the end of 2020 it would be an understatement to list the negative impacts on our places of work, schools, families and our normal lives in general. I am sure we are all tired of quarantine, social distancing, Zoom meetings, wearing masks and spending a large amount of time at home. While we are starting to see some light at the end of tunnel based on vaccination progress and some movement in Washington on stimulus activities, they won’t provide immediate help. Here is a short list of the activities I miss: 1) Christmas Business After Hours – A wonderful time to see everyone and wish them well as they move into the new year. 2) Spending time at my families big holiday events – We have always had large get togethers at Thanksgiving & Christmas. 3) Going out and meeting in person to discuss business plans and activities. 4) Calling a few friends to go out for a beer or two after work. I could list many more the same as you could! Things are projected to get more difficult short-term as we wait for tools that will lessen the impact on our lives from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is time to double down on things to keep everyone safe and move past this as fast as possible. Better times will be on the horizon!

As we monitor activities from Washington & Lansing for more robust stimulus help for our small businesses and citizens, we are seeing many organizations stepping up to assist those among us that are less fortunate. Do what you can to help others that need it right now. Continue to shop local and support our businesses that are under more strict health guidelines. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced a new grant this week. The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative is targeting small businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

The grant opportunity for the Upper Peninsula will be $500,000, with individual grant limits at $15,000. It will be a first come first serve application process through the MEDC’s online application portal starting December 15. The Michigan Small Business Development Center also sent out a reminder this week that they have no cost services for small businesses to assist them making changes to their business structure due to changes from the COVID-19 guidelines. Both of these programs are listed in the COVID-19 tools on the Delta County Chamber of Commerce website (www.deltami.org) or feel free to call me at 786-2192 with any questions.

I also want to recognize the passing of Tom Casperson. Tom was an amazing leader and ambassador for the UP. His many contributions and programs will continue to assist many in UP for years to come.

He will be missed and rest in peace, Tom. Enjoy the time with your family and friends safely over the holidays!

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Ed Legault is director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance

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