By Associated Press - Monday, December 28, 2020

PORT HURON, Mich. (AP) - This year, it’s been about saving every business possible for the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County.

The nonprofit has helped more than 350 businesses directly and has aided others with answering coronavirus pandemic order questions and connecting them to grants and other resources, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported.

Port Huron restaurant Bangkok Star received a $3,000 grant managed by the alliance. The funding helped with bills like rent and utilities. Bangkok Star also didn’t have to further increase prices or reduce employee work hours during the pandemic, according to co-owner Chris Bevins.

“It meant a lot to be honest with you,” he told the newspaper. “It’s a good resource for knowledge for different things you as a business owner may need to know.”

The alliance has helped manage $1.5 million in grants and will be administrating two more programs with over $115,000.

It also worked on different campaigns to help keep people safe during the pandemic and campaigns to encourage people to help the local economy. However, it still has found time to continue working on other developments expected to bring jobs to the area.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Economic Development Alliance Chief Executive Dan Casey said.

Port Huron Downtown Development Authority Director Cynthia Cutright said the alliance has greatly impacted downtown during the pandemic.

She works with the nonprofit in a variety of ways and increasingly so because of COVID-19. The organization took the lead in the Support St. Clair County “Yes! We’re Open” initiative earlier this year and has helped bring new investment downtown to help make Port Huron an attractive place for new businesses.

“They have worked tirelessly finding and securing financial assistance to small businesses and have worked hard to consistently provide updates as to the newest executive orders,” Cutright wrote in an email. “The EDA has done an incredible job at breaking that information down and helping the business community digest and absorb all that is out there.”

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