By Megan Kelley
Michigan’s 8th congressional district representative Elissa Slotkin visited downtown Lake Orion on Monday to talk with constituents about the re-opening of music venues as well as grant programs.
A handful of people joined Slotkin and her team at 20 Front Street to provide updates and give some helpful advice for re-opening and receiving grants to the owners of 20 Front Street and other business owners.
In downtown Lake Orion, 20 Front Street is arguably one of the businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns. Being touted as a small, intimate venue, while intriguing for artists and fans, has made it difficult to do much with the empty space since being hit by the pandemic.
But 20 Front Street isn’t the only one, large venues like DTE Energy Music Theater in Clarkston and Meadow Brook Amphitheatre in Rochester are also facing similar issues. With people being unable to gather in large quantities, music artists are not holding tours, leaving these venues virtually empty.
Slotkin discussed the Save Our Stages Act that was passed in late December.
The Save Our Stages Act provides small business grants to independent venue operators. These grants provide six months of financial support to keep venues from going under, allows them to pay employees, and also works to preserve that part of the economic sector, the bill stated.
“The SBA (Small Business Administration) is responsible for administering it and frankly, we were expecting the new rules to be out two weeks ago,” Slotkin said. “We’re still hoping that before the end of February we have official guidance. So, they’re telling everybody: get your papers in order.”
A good bit of advice offered by Slotkin was to include a joint cover letter from local government, downtown development authority and community with your grant/loan application.
“When we had the PPP loan program, I wrote a cover letter, and you should do the same thing when you apply. You should have one from your local community, one from your federal representative and we should talk about the role of the business in the community,” Slotkin said. “It fulfills the purpose it was intended to fill and they’ll feel more confident stamping ‘yes’, which is what we want.”
Visit www.sba.gov for more information on the grants and loans available to small businesses at this time or to apply for a grant or loan.