EDITORIAL: Supporting local businesses is more important than ever

Front door of new Green Tree Cooperative location 410 West Broadway street.

Getting tired of chicken nuggets and pizza every day? It might be time to start looking off-campus at supporting some of the locally-owned businesses that keep the city of Mount Pleasant alive and give the city its unique character. 

In a time of low enrollment – and general disarray at Central Michigan University – that list of businesses seems to grow smaller by the day. 

Now more than ever, Mount Pleasant needs students' attention. 

We saw the COVID-19 pandemic hit local commerce hard. Six hundred small businesses in Michigan were surveyed by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) in June 2021. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said COVID-19 had a negative impact on their business.

We saw that early on as local staples like the Italian Oven and Pita Pit closed its doors for good. 

In Mount Pleasant, we have another problem: A healthy community depends on a healthy university. 

The student population more than doubles the total population of Mount Pleasant during the academic year. As CMU enrollment continues to decline, that means less clientele for the surrounding community. 

Local real estate agent and lifelong Isabella county resident Jim Engler expressed this best in his recent column published in The Morning Sun.

Engler describes a Mount Pleasant that once thrived with the student population - along with plenty of opportunities for work in the oil and farming industries.

Those opportunities for work are either gone or shrinking rapidly. The vacant storefronts along Mission and Pickard Streets tell a story of a community that needs help.

Big Boy, Pizza Hut, La Senorita, Tim Hortons, Ruby Tuesday, Kroger, JCPenney, Sears and Merchantile Bank are just the latest victims. 

Students must show some love for our community before there isn't a community left to love. 

The best way to express it is to support the people who live and work here. 

Over the weekend, Green Tree Cooperative Market hosted a grand opening to celebrate its move into the newly constructed 410 W Broadway. It's the newest development for a business that has served the Mount Pleasant community for nearly 50 years.  

On the other side of town, the local Taco Boy is fighting for survival with the planning commission over keeping its drive-thru open. Shirts that say "Save Taco Boy" are selling out because community members refuse to see another local business die. 

It's businesses like these that give Mount Pleasant its unique identity. 

Don't let them become another vacant storefront. 

Shop local to support and save this city.