Shop Small Wayne County Initiative Takes the Local Economy to the Online Marketplace


The Yemeni American News

Detroit, Mich. – Wayne County has unveiled a new initiative for small businesses. Known as Shop Small Wayne County, the initiative provides free marketing to businesses during the holiday season by creating an online hub for holiday shopping throughout Wayne County.

Businesses will be able to send in a simple application that asked for the basic details of their store or restaurant – business name, hours, address, etc – and expect their business to be featured in the online marketing platform within one or two days.

And that’s all a business would need to do. According to Wayne County Assistant Executive Khalil Rahal, there is no deadline to apply.

“There isn’t a real deadline, we’re going to be doing this all throughout the rest of the year,” Rahal said. “But we’re going to start launching this hopefully as early as Monday. So we want people to register as much as we can between now and then and even afterwards if they have to, just so that people get their gifts and presents on time.”

On the County’s end, the businesses will be featured on a website, and marketed through social media, google and other platforms for no cost to the business. Wayne County has invested some remaining funds from the federal CARES Act, about $50,000, to connect a dedicated team of digital marketing professionals to ensure that businesses are marketed right.

For businesses who want to apply, go to the Wayne County Website

Digital Marketing and Online Sales Are the “New Normal”

The pandemic has changed how people interact with businesses. Although a business doesn’t have to reinvent a major corporation like Amazon in order to enjoy some of the benefits of that emerging market.

Many restaurants are finding that interacting with online services like GrubHub or UberEats has provided new sales that would have otherwise gone to someone else. For specialty products, a site like Etsy can offer an alternative to selling products on Amazon. And even some website creator tools support online shopping in how someone builds their business’ homepage.

This year, online shopping has boomed as a result of lockdowns, changes in the rules for business operation, and even the available spending money the average person has. As part of the Shop Small Wayne County program, some businesses can find help with a few of the simple problems with moving online.

“So imagine a mom and pop restaurant operating in a neighborhood for so many years,” Rahal said. “But they’ve been operating based on their name, their credibility, their history, right. And they’ve been surviving and doing decent that way. They never had a need to talk to one of the corporate conglomerate delivery food services. That is something that our business development managers can help with.”

Other Help May Not Be On its Way for a While

During the first peak in United States COVID-19 cases, the federal government provided a $1,200 economic stimulus package for every American who was eligible. Major business-focused programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and other low-interest loans also kept the economy running in an uncertain time.

Here in Michigan, the unemployment system was bolstered for a minimum payout of $600 each week for those who couldn’t work during the pandemic. All of that has changed.

Congress has been divided on how to proceed toward a new round of stimulus. With another peak in Coronavirus cases, a new round of stimulus is badly needed. Michigan has exhausted its unemployment budget as well.

While Whitmer has been calling on Congress and the Trump Administration to release another round of Economic Stimulus, local governments are trying to find new ways to help businesses any way they can.

So while a Coronavirus Relief Bill may not go through Congress any time soon, this is one of the solutions that was developed through collaborative planning. Wayne County holds meetings with area chambers of commerce and local economic leaders throughout the county. The idea for no-cost marketing came from one of those meetings.

“One of our working groups came up with this idea -more hand holding for online marketing, more avenues to help market and promote,” Rahal said. “And the team came back and we were able to convince people to give us some funding to be able to do it.”