Local Businesses Offer Input On Road Funding

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Almost everyone can agree Michigan's roads need improvement, but how to pay for them is still up for debate.

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce is reaching out to local businesses for their input.

They want to know how businesses are impacted to help the Chamber decide which funding proposal is best.

DBI is a longtime member of the Chamber, and offered its input.

"The roads are really tough on our trucks," DBI Co-Owner Steve Klaver said. "We send out 15 vehicles a day. We find vehicle repairs are expensive."

DBI spends up to $500 on truck repairs each month. So, the company is in favor of fixing the roads, but concerned about who pays for it.

"We need the good roads," Klaver said. "We're going to have to bite the bullet somewhere, because the money's got to come up somewhere."

With their vehicles, the governor's proposed gas tax increase and higher registration fees isn't really ideal, and that feedback is exactly what the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce wants to hear.

"We think it's very important for the businesses to be engaged in this process, that the voice of the business community here in the Greater Lansing region is being heard at the State Capitol," Chamber President and CEO Tim Daman said.

There are other businesses that don't drive trucks but still feel the impact of Michigan's roads, and the Chamber wants to hear from them too - ones most people might not think of, like Spin Bicycle Shop in Old Town.

"Poor road conditions make it difficult to ride, it makes it unsafe to ride," Spin Bicycle Shop Owner Chad Cottom said. "One of the biggest problems for people commuting back and forth and using bikes for utility is being safe."

Bike sales at Spin would be much better with better roads. In Cottom's case, a gas tax might actually encourage more people to ride, so he's not opposed to it.

One thing most businesses can agree on is how to bring more businesses in.

"You've got to have good infrastructure all the way around, and if you don't have that, if the roads are crappy, then they're not excited about coming in," Klaver said.

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce hopes collaborating now will help the economy in the future.

"At the end of the day, we need to figure out a way to pay for this," Daman said.

The Chamber hasn't received much feedback yet. They have a board meeting Thursday night and plan to discuss how to further engage small businesses on the road funding topic.

The Chamber is part of a larger "Michigan Transportation Team" effort gathering research from around the state to present to the legislature when the time comes to make a decision on funding for the roads.

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