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Growing Signs of Strength

Success, at least for a time, will likely be measured in small doses.

It remains uncertain when Greater Lansing will regain its full momentum. However, every advancing economic step can be claimed a victory following the stay-at-home restrictions — a clear indication of the strength of character that is a hallmark of the spirit of the region, according to Chris Buck, director and chief operating officer for Martin Commercial Properties.

“The Lansing region has a long history of collaboration and support,” Buck said. “There are numerous examples of an article being published about a business experiencing a hardship and the community immediately rallies to help them out. While these are overwhelming times, I’m optimistic that there will be unity and creativity to minimize the pain businesses and citizens are feeling.”

Scott Keith, president and CEO of the Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities Authority, said small activities and events, in both size and scale, will likely be normal for the time being as people continue to build confidence in attending public gatherings.

“Everyone will have a different level of comfort,” he said, “I have used our experiences at (Groesbeck Golf Course) as an example. Once restrictions on golf were lifted, we have seen an immediate rebound in golf to really good levels. I hope this is the case in other aspects of entertainment, sports and meetings.”

Although the pandemic highlighted the need for revised social practices, it also showcased the importance of LEPFA’s role in the area and spotlighted how community connectivity is the pulse of Lansing’s beating heart.

“There was some attention to the fact that the Lansing Center could be converted to a patient care center much like other convention centers in the country, but also that people need sports, entertainment and attractions as a release during challenging times,” Keith said. “Communities recognize that the balance in their life sometimes revolves around the gathering and meeting opportunities that involve interaction.”

The commercial sector absorbed the brunt of the economic impact from COVID-19. Many industry leaders expect a high volume of vacancies in the coming months as retail, small businesses and restaurants decide if a comeback is feasible. Buck said the abundance of empty properties will eventually be populated by new tenants. The only question is the timeline.

“With nearly 60 years of experience, Martin Commercial Properties has seen many times of uncertainty,” Buck said. “Our property management team, in particular, has been immersed in communication between landlords and tenants as they each work to survive the financial challenges of the pandemic.”

There have been discussions about necessary steps to implement best practices, as well as regain financial ground, Buck said.

“Many users expect to be open on days they used to be closed and have longer hours per day to catch up,” he said. “The scheduling of after-hours cleanings needs to be adjusted to accommodate this. Communication is the key.”

Jeff Shapiro, principal with NAI Mid-Michigan, said the pool of highly skilled workers eager to return to work, particularly in the hospitality industry, will be the engine driving the regional rebound — and the innovative and imaginative determination will signal why the Greater Lansing area should be deservingly celebrated.

“Many will help evolve operations or start their own businesses nearby where they live. … This new pool of highly motivated talent will bring renewed life and energy to our downtowns, helping to keep Greater Lansing a great place to live, work and play,” he said.


Adapting with Strength

Five years of e-commerce growth were crammed into a single quarter because of COVID-19, Jeff Shapiro, principal with NAI Mid-Michigan, said. That, he added, reflects the adaptability of business.

“Together we experienced the resilience of our business community with the abrupt switch to work from home,” Shapiro said. “Many employers at first thought this was a long-term paid vacation but soon saw for themselves how quickly staff adapted and stayed on task. … In the course of one week in late March, it went from the unknown to the can-do, a testament to both strength and commitment.”

He said there’s a lot of buzz about reduced space needs with increased work-from-home scheduling.

“During the shutdown and with reopening, businesses in mid-Michigan re-solidified their appreciation for the work they do and how they do it in serving their clients and customers,” he said.