Orion ponders helping bars, restaurants

by Mindy Carls correspondent

Can the Village of Orion offer an incentive to residents who want to help bars and restaurants stay in business during the pandemic?

Or is it more appropriate to ask Main Street Orion to offer the incentive?

Orion’s village board debated incentives on Monday, Dec. 7.

Village President Jim Cooper said Trustee Mike Dunlap had mentioned an incentive the Village of Cambridge was offering.

According to Cambridge’s Facebook page, a household purchasing a to-go food order from Cambridge dining establishments during December can receive $10 off the next water bill.

Cooper suggested a minimum purchase of $25 for the same incentive, but added that it’s more suitable for Main Street Orion to offer a $10 gift card.

One of Main Street Orion’s missions is economic development, which is more important than ever, he said.

Cooper said he had asked for and received Main Street Orion’s financial report, which showed the organization had $31,000 in savings. Main Street can afford to hand out 400 gift cards valued at $10 each for a total of $4,000.

The village gave Main Street $10,000 for 2020-21, but because pandemic restrictions forced cancellation of its events, Main Street Orion hasn’t spent a fraction of that amount, the village president said.

A participant in the Zoom call said Main Street’s $31,000 savings account is a rainy day fund, and pointed out its economic development efforts include façade grants to businesses.

Spending $4,000 has more of an impact on Main Street Orion’s budget than on the village’s million-dollar budget, the participant said.

Trustee Ryan Hancock said Main Street Orion should be asked if they want to offer the incentive. If they decline, the village can discuss it again.

Cooper agreed with Hancock. He said he already had spoken to Main Street board members.