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East Lansing businesses hurting without college students in town

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Posted at 5:18 AM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 09:30:10-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Not having college students back on Michigan State University’s campus this fall has made it difficult for East Lansing businesses. Local business owners argue that if their businesses fold due to students not attending in-person class, then the city could potentially lose millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Now, local businesses want the city to help them out. They are awaiting the university’s decision on the matter.

“The business community was fully anticipating plus or minus ten thousand freshmen to be on campus. To say that doesn’t have a dramatic effect on the businesses would be a gross understatement,” said CEO Harbor Bay Real Estate Mark Bell.

Normalcy for businesses might take a long time for the East Lansing area.

“Everyone was anticipating a comeback. People were ramping up, there was a sense of optimism, a sense of hope that there was going to be some sense of normalcy,” said Harbor Bay VP of Government Affairs Steve Willobee.

Additionally, Mark Bell says they’ve been experiencing a slowdown in business from students for months.

“No March Madness, no summer classes, no sports, no camps, no football. Downtown East Lansing is successful contingent on the success of MSU. Without it, businesses are mightily struggling,” said Bell.

According to Bell, The City Center District produces over $1.8 million in property tax revenue for the city. He believes that money might not exist if there are no students patronizing downtown.

East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens says that the city has offered some assistance for struggling businesses.

MSU President Samuel Stanley told Fox 47 that he does not anticipate bringing students back to campus during the fall semester.

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