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Published in Small Business

Kent County waives food service licensing fees for 2021

BY Thursday, March 25, 2021 04:46pm

Kent County restaurant owners will get a break from paying food service licensing fees for 2021 after county commissioners approved the one-time waiver on Thursday.

The waiver will apply to 2,294 existing food establishments in Kent County, including permanent and mobile establishments, totaling about $1 million in anticipated fees. 

The annual licensing and inspection fees would have normally been due by April 30. Restaurants are still required to submit a renewal application by April 30, and should expect to receive a renewal application from the Kent County Health Department within the next two weeks.

“Our restaurant owners and employees are hurting — they are among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Kent County Board Chairperson Mandy Bolter. “The Board of Commissioners felt very strongly about waiving this fee as one small way to provide meaningful assistance where possible.”

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association predicted at the end of 2020 that 5,600 establishments would close in Michigan in the next six months. West Michigan real estate experts told MiBiz that national and regional chains have managed through the pandemic fairly well, while smaller locally owned restaurants have struggled, especially if they did not adapt to take-out or did not have access to outdoor seating.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce backed the county board’s action. Waiving the fees shows support for restaurant operators who have struggled to stay in business while working to keep customers and employees safe, said Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. 

“As we near the finish line of this challenging period, we are thrilled that Kent County continues to take meaningful steps to support the recovery effort,” Baker said in a statement. 

The Kent County Health Department is “keenly aware” of challenges food establishments have been facing and appreciate the financial relief the county has granted, said Director Dr. Adam London.

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