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City partners with credit union to propel new downtown businesses


The city of Mount Pleasant is seen from the tenth floor of the City Housing Commission Nov. 19 in downtown.

Two new businesses in downtown Mount Pleasant will find their early days a little easier, thanks to an initiative aiming to grease the wheels of entrepreneurship.

Lake Trust Credit Union, based in Brighton, partnered with the city to introduce the "Make It Mount Pleasant" program into its downtown district. The credit union will provide one year of financial aid to each business selected for the program, awarding up to $6,700. That includes a maximum of $4,200 in rent assistance and up to $2,500 to help with other expenses such as signage, merchandising and acquiring permits.

Spread evenly across a year, the aid would cover about $350 each month in rent. Rent in downtown Mount Pleasant ranges from about $500 to $1,500 per month, said Downtown Development Director Michelle Sponseller.

The partnership with Lake Trust Credit Union is geared especially toward bringing new retail, dining, and “arts and entertainment” locations, such as theaters and galleries, to the area.

Lake Trust Credit Union identified Mount Pleasant as a worthy candidate for the program through its partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which runs a similar initiative.

It isn’t the first time the credit union has done this, either. Lake Trust Credit Union brought a rental subsidy program to Howell last year, and announced a "Make It Downtown Lansing" program earlier this month.

“Our focus as a credit union is to try to make a difference in the communities we serve,” Lake Trust Credit Union Business Development Manager Justin Haun said. “Part of the vision is having a strong downtown (that) really creates that walkable space that tends to attract people moving to those communities.”

Lake Trust Credit Union’s downtown financial aid programs begin as one-year agreements, Haun said, and can be extended as long as the business is demonstrating success.

Sponseller said she’ll be meeting with two potential "Make It Mount Pleasant" applicants this week.