Partners offer $55K gift card program to help minority-owned businesses

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El Granjero Mexican Grill is one of 40 minority-owned businesses participating in the Our Town program. Courtesy Transformando West Michigan

Consumers Energy is partnering with the Michigan Municipal League Foundation on a gift card program that will let customers double their spending at 40 minority-owned businesses in the Grand Rapids area.

Consumers said this week it made a $55,000 contribution to the Michigan Municipal League Foundation that will let the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses provide $25 Mastercard gift cards to 40 of their member businesses.

Under the program, which kicked off Friday, patrons who spend a minimum of $25 at a participating location will receive a $25 Mastercard gift card that can be applied to their purchase or spent at any of the participating businesses. Each business will receive an equal number of gift cards for distribution, but supplies are limited and are expected to sell out quickly.

The initiative is part of Consumers Energy’s Our Town program to assist small local businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This unique partnership with the MML Foundation allows Consumers Energy to work with an important business segment facing challenges because of COVID-19 by increasing local spending in the greater Grand Rapids community,” said Lauren Youngdahl Snyder, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience.

The program comes on the heels of an Our Town gift card effort in late 2020 in which Consumers Energy contributed $800,000 in 55 communities which, unlike Grand Rapids, have local merchant gift card programs.

The program also is backed by the Michigan Municipal League Foundation, which is working to advance community wealth through strategic partnerships and investments in strong, diverse leadership for Michigan communities and place-based initiatives that drive equitable outcomes.

Helen Johnson, MML Foundation president, said an essential part of this gift card program is how it is geared toward underserved communities and minority-owned businesses. Johnson thanked Consumers Energy and Grand Rapids-area leaders for their commitment to this program.

“The MML Foundation is proud to join Consumers Energy and the Grand Rapids area in supporting this gift card effort. This program will provide much-needed financial assistance to our local businesses,” Johnson said. “Our foundation believes in community wealth building and enhancing the human experience in our communities in ways that share economic prosperity for everyone. That is exactly what this program does.”

Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, a past Michigan Municipal League board president, said she supports the program.

“I appreciate Consumers Energy’s focus on local communities, the support from the MML Foundation and the work from the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber and Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses to make this a reality,” she said.

A full list of the participating businesses can be found below.

Courtesy Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses

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