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 County officials announced they will distribute at least 10,000 totes to local small businesses to help as they reopen after the pandemic shutdown.

County officials announced they will distribute at least 10,000 totes to local small businesses to help as they reopen after the pandemic shutdown.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki


Oakland County builds ‘reopen kits’ for small businesses

93% of businesses in Oakland County are small businesses

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published June 4, 2020

 Inside each of the totes created by the county, there is approximately $400 worth of personal protection equipment, County Executive David Coulter said.

Inside each of the totes created by the county, there is approximately $400 worth of personal protection equipment, County Executive David Coulter said.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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OAKLAND COUNTY — On the west side of South Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township, two unmarked buildings — one dark brown, the other white — sat seemingly vacant even prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

But important things are happening inside to help bring Oakland County back to life.

On May 27, County Executive David Coulter announced that 10,000 COVID-19 reopening toolkits will be distributed to small businesses with 50 or fewer employees around the county. Inside is a variety of personal protection equipment to ensure merchants have the supplies they need to safely interact with customers as the state’s lockdown orders are slowly relaxed.

Inside each plastic flap-top tote is around $400 worth of products, including locally sewn masks, surface disinfectant, bottles of hand sanitizer, signage for floors and windows to promote 6 feet of social distance, and a touch-free thermometer. Also included is a wealth of community resources and guidelines business owners can use to find information and assistance from other agencies.

Funds for the kits were approved by the Oakland County Commission, and the kits were created with the help of Main Street Oakland County members. Local businessman Roger Penske donated two warehouses next to each other in the 1700 block of Telegraph Road, where the totes can be packed.

“The kits serve two purposes,” Coulter said during a press event May 27 inside one of the warehouses. “We want to give our small businesses essential materials that have been difficult to acquire and are necessary when the OK comes for businesses to reopen safely. At the same time, we want customers to feel confident that our businesses are doing all they can to keep their customers and employees safe. This is a priority for everyone.”

Sean Carlson is the deputy county executive and oversees, among other sectors, the Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs Department. He said the toolkits are just one of a myriad of steps the county is taking to boost small businesses following the hardship brought on by lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, 93% of the businesses in Oakland County are small businesses.

Other efforts have included $14 million in Small Business Stabilization fund grants doled out between more than 3,500 small businesses and $700,000 in grants to manufacturers who have been able to transition to making PPE for first responders and health care workers.

“We’re looking at other grant opportunities, too,” Carlson explained. “When we went through the Great Recession, small businesses kept Oakland County alive. So we want to do what we can to help keep them on their feet.”

The first phase of toolkits will be distributed to around 3,000 businesses within the 25 Oakland County Main Street communities, delivered by Global Office Solutions in Novi. After that, another 5,000 will be distributed through downtown development authorities and chambers of commerce. The final 2,000 kits will be available to businesses not covered by the Main Street program or local development authorities.

To apply for a reopening toolkit, small business owners can go to oakgov.com and click on the COVID-19 page. They can also find the printed content in the kits, including resource directories, PPE reorder forms and more, all available for download.

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