Partners Stand in Support of Small Business with Smart Restart

Partners Stand in Support of Small Business with Smart Restart 1

(Grand Rapids, Mich. – September 3, 2020) – Kent County Board Chair Mandy Bolter, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and Grand Rapids Chamber President & CEO Rick Baker came together today on the piazza at Studio Park with Emily Loeks of Studio C and Leah Bush of Orangetheory fitness to support responsibly reopening businesses that have remained closed due to Executive Order.

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss:

“As Mayor of Grand Rapids, I am committed to ensuring that all businesses are afforded an opportunity to reopen with appropriate measures, protocols and plans that will be rooted in keeping everyone safe.

Our business leaders have consistently demonstrated a tremendous sense of pride, dedication and willingness to innovate to ensure our community stays safe – we are not afraid to partner and collaborate across all sectors to find solutions. 

I am confident that entertainment venues like Studio Park, as well as our local gyms, the YMCA, our bowling alleys and others can safely reopen with appropriate safety protocols in place – just as we have seen occur with other businesses throughout our community. 

We can do both – create safe spaces, follow public health precautions and support our businesses in recovering from this global pandemic.”

Kent County Board Chair Mandy Bolter:

“Mayor Bliss and I wrote a letter to the Governor because we know it’s our job to share what we see and hear locally.

 We wanted to be sure the Governor knows how bad we are hurting but also how hard our businesses are working to operate safely.  We want her to know about the innovation and creativity of our businesses and that they are doing all they can to keep their employees and customers safe.

 In Kent County, we work together, we collaborate. Our Health Department worked with companies like Meijer and Spectrum to stand up a FREE SCREENING TOOL for our local businesses, one that many other communities are calling to replicate. An innovative tool that has averted almost 900 employees locally from reporting to work due to symptoms.

 We can do this – but we need to take action, before many of these businesses close for good and the jobs are gone forever. As we go forward, we will do what we do best in West Michigan— work together collaboratively, in a bipartisan way, to find additional, local solutions to provide relief and assistance.”

Grand Rapids Chamber President & CEO Rick Baker:

“Four months ago, the Grand Rapids Chamber presented a phased, restart plan to policymakers with a framework based upon geographic and activity-based risk to create pathways for regions to responsibly reopen as quickly, and as safely as possible.

Our business community has supported actions to flatten the curve, as protecting the health of our fellow citizens is our shared responsibility. 

While we are disappointed that we did not hear an anticipated announcement from the Governor on the reopening of these business yesterday, we hope to soon. But we stress that that “soon,” cannot come soon enough.

These closed businesses need to see a pathway forward and the Chamber will continue to do all we can to give them a fighting chance.

We are not asking for anything more than to be responsible for our own businesses while at the same time working hard to ensure safety. That’s what entrepreneurship in 2020 is all about.”

Studio C Public Relations & Community Affairs Director Emily Loeks:

Leah Bush, Owner of Orangetheory Fitness:

“The past five months have been extremely difficult on so many. Our studio in particular had been open less than 2 years before being forced to shut our doors. It is very discouraging to wake up each day and have no idea if there is light at the end of this long tunnel.

I completely understand that we cannot open our doors and continue on with “business as usual.” Being in a health-conscious industry, our staff and members understand things will be different and will take seriously the safety precautions we have in place.

Orangetheory locations across the country are successfully executing a safe workout experience for these unique times that still delivers results to enhance both the physical and emotional health of their communities. We are ready to join them.”

Emily Loeks, Studio C:

“We want the curve to flatten. We want to open responsibly and safely…We want to be part of the story that sees our community come out of this stronger.”



About the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce leads the business community in creating a dynamic, top-of-mind West Michigan region. Together with over 2,500 member businesses (80% of which are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees), we work to expand the influence, access, and information required to actively encourage entrepreneurial growth and community leadership. We offer the connections, resources, and insights needed to develop strong leaders, engage a diverse workforce, foster an inclusive and welcoming community, and advance a vibrant business environment that nurtures economic prosperity for all. Learn more at


About the City of Grand Rapids

The City of Grand Rapids provides a full range of services to residents, students and visitors. Grand Rapids is a diverse and culturally rich community of nearly 200,000 residents located along the banks of the Grand River, 30 miles east of Lake Michigan. It is the second-largest city in Michigan and serves as the county seat of Kent County and the economic engine for the western part of the state. Grand Rapids has been recognized nationally for its quality of life and named one of the 25 best places to live in the U.S. It also has been touted among the best cities to start a career, raise a family and retire, among others. Stay connected with City news, events and information at: and


About Kent County

The County of Kent government serves a diverse population of more than 650,000 residents, making it the fourth largest county in Michigan. The County provides a wide range of essential services in the following areas: law enforcement, correctional facility, three court systems, elections, social services, public health, park system and vital records. Additionally, it has operating agreements for the maintenance of County drains, solid waste and road, mental health services, and with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport and John Ball Zoo. To learn more about Kent County services, visit




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