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Downtown Kalamazoo Faces The Pandemic

Andy Robins

National leaders are looking for ways to limit economic damage by the corona virus pandemic. Local communities, including Kalamazoo, are doing the same.

Andrew Haan is the president of Kalamazoo's Downtown Partnership. He says it's boosting the value of gift cards for participating merchants in the city's central business district.

"If you spend $25 and buy a gift certificate, our organization will put another $10 on top of that, so your money will go 40-percent further."

Haan says sales of the "enhanced" gift certificates, available through the Partnership's webpage, has been brisk.

"We've already seen about ten percent of them sell, just in the first 14 or 16 hours. It's been well received. Really, it's just kind of the first of some additional interventions that we're looking at."

Haan says he hopes those steps will encourage people will help local merchants by shopping with them online or getting take-out meals.

"I think we all know that Kalamazoo is a generous community with a big heart, so we're trying to remain optimistic and hope we can move the needle on this and limit some of the damage."

Haan says Kalamazoo's downtown businesses are stepping up during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I think as painful that has been for a lot of the businesses, even some of the ones that were not mandated to close, they've gone ahead and voluntarily closed and are really doing their best to chip in to what's going to have to be a societal reaction and response to this challenge."

Haan says his agency is also launching a marketing campaign to support downtown businesses. It has also worked the city and Central City Parking to provide new areas where people can park to get take-out meals.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.
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