Small businesses seeing economic turnaround

BUILDING UP: Kevin Mann, owner of Mann's Hardware, said business has been going good since he took over in March.

BUILDING UP: Kevin Mann, owner of Mann’s Hardware, said business has been going good since he took over in March.

MECOSTA COUNTY — Jennifer Heinzman believes Mecosta County is “up and coming” economically.

Heinzman, executive director of the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce, said the proof is in the number of small businesses that are new or have new owners.

“People are taking more risks now because that threat (of the economy) is not hanging over them,” she said, adding the economy isn’t prefect right now but shows of improvement.

For Kevin Mann, owner of Mann’s Hardware in Mecosta, the risk was worth it. Mann took over a previous hardware store and thinks the time is coming for small businesses to be beacons of the community.

“I think the smaller town businesses are coming back,” he said.

For example, he said at many big box stores customers won’t get as personalized service. He added that with gas prices higher than $3 a gallon, shoppers often look to buy locally.

Although he only took over the business in March, he sees himself continuing as the owner for a long time.

“It’s been here 80 years,” he said. “I just don’t see it changing. There’s a lot of potential here and in the surrounding area.”

PREPARING DOUGH: Casey Councilor, co-owner of Pizza in Paris, said for small businesses to thrive, the community and other businesses need to come together and support each other.

PREPARING: Casey Councilor, co-owner of Pizza in Paris, prepares dough at his business. He said for small businesses to thrive, the community and other businesses need to come together and support each other.

Casey Councilor took over Pizza in Paris, which has been open since 1999.

Although the business was already established when Councilor took it over in May, he still felt he was taking a risk opening the business. However, he added it’s a good time to own a small business.

“If you don’t take a chance, you’re never going to get ahead,” he said. “If the economy was horrible and nobody was doing anything, then of course I wouldn’t have gotten into it.”

Councilor added the community support he has seen has been great.

“If everyone can keep their money local and we can scratch each other’s backs, I think we’ll come out of this and be OK,” he said.

Heinzman agreed, saying it’s important for community’s and businesses to come together.

“What we’ve been telling all the new business is that you don’t open the doors and expect people to come,” she said, adding businesses can’t neglect to network.

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