There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will take a toll on our economy, but we can work together to minimize the negative impact.

Place carryout orders from local restaurants
One of the easiest ways to help, and let’s face it, give yourself a break too, is to pick up a curbside carry-out from your favorite local restaurants. Manty national chains are offering this option too, but patronizing independent eateries in your own neighborhood will help keep the town you live in going. Consult with your downtown association or chamber of commerce for lists of restaurants that are participating, or check with a restaurant directly through its website, Facebook page, or with a call. You may find at times that you are there waiting with a lot of other people, which can be deceptive. A crowded carryout line does not mean they don’t need your business. First, they are working with skeleton crews, which sometimes slows things down. Second, no amount of carryout orders can make up for a restaurant filled with patrons, but it can be enough to keep them in business while we weather the COVID storm.

Purchase gift cards
Many restaurants, shops, inns, and even tourism destinations are offering gift cards for sale online. Purchase cards from places you intend to patronize after the closures subside, and you will be providing them with some funds now to help cover expenses while they do not have other forms of revenue.

Seek out Michigan brands
Naturally this is a message we preach all of the time at Buy Michigan Now, but it’s never more important than at times like these. One thing we are all still shopping for is groceries. When making your food and beverage decisions, prioritize brands made in Michigan, when available. Our Grocery Guide can be a helpful resource to peruse before you go so you don’t have to read as many labels in order to buy local.

Order directly from Michigan companies and artists
There’s a temptation to go online to giants like Amazon and Walmart to make online purchases, but in many cases you can also buy what you need from Michigan-based companies instead. Those giant retailers are overwhelmed with orders, and are prioritizing shipments of essential items. Plus, they get a big piece of the sale. If there’s a book by a Michigan author that interests you, see if the author or publisher can ship it directly or sell you an e-book version. Most local food and apparel producers are still shipping directly to customers from their own websites, as are a lot of local retailers. If they are not shipping, many are allowing for curbside pickup of items they sell in their stores.

Pay early
If you know you are going to employ lawncare services, home improvement companies, stylists, nail techs, and other service providers in the coming months, and are financially-equipped to do so, inquire about making payments in advance, or putting deposits down now. Access to those funds can help them keep people on the payroll or cover the lease on their building, which is due in most cases, even if the building is closed.

Spend stimulus checks and tax refunds locally
Checks have begun flowing from the federal government, either as tax refunds or as a stimulus. If you are still employed, and expecting one of those financial boosts, consider how you can spend at least some of it locally. Perhaps you can make a donation to the food bank in your area, or maybe buy gift cards for people you love who are in less fortunate circumstances. Anything you can do to keep at least some of those dollars close to home will help us stabilize our economy sooner.

Write reviews
If you’ve got more time to share than money these days, then take the time to write some glowing reviews about local companies that you love. Places like restaurants, bed & breakfasts, doctor offices, law firms, and home repair companies really benefit in new business based on positive reviews from customers and clients.

Use social media
If you buy something new that’s made in Michigan, post it. You may not be in a position to buy a lot of new products right now, but chances are there are Michigan-made goods you love that are in your home already. Shoot pix and share them on social media. Take the time to tag the business where you bought it and/or the company who made it. Either in the initial post or as a comment, include a link where that item, or something like it, can be purchased by others.

Share recipes with local ingredients
Lots of people are exploring their culinary side during the stay at home order. If you count yourself among them, then we would love for you to open your pantry, fridge or freezer and find some Michigan ingredients to put together to create a delicious dish. Email with your recipe (including the Michigan brands you are featuring), what inspired it, and a photo, and we may share it on our site. If you opt do a video demonstration on Facebook or Instagram, tag @BuyMichiganNow so we can share it with others.

Complete the 2020 U.S. Census
This may seem like an odd addition to this list, but it’s vital for all of us as individuals as well as for the businesses across the state. Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are partially based on population totals. Our state benefits the most when the census counts everyone. When you respond, you help your community gets its fair share of the nearly $1 trillion that will be distributed next year. Plus, population counts directly affect the redrawing of US Congressional maps and consequently political representation. If you’ve already answered–thank you! If not, it’s only 9 questions so that’s a great way to do something productive today.

These are trying times, but we can and will get through it TOGETHER. There is something each and every one of us can do to help. Let us know what you’re doing, and/or suggestions you have to keep the economy moving.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.