Bay City businesses rebound in post-pandemic summer

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BAY CITY, Michigan (WNEM) – As the last days of summer wind down, it was the first year since the pandemic began that businesses, festivals and more in mid-Michigan have returned to normal.

After being in a funk for two summers due to coronavirus restrictions, the summer of 2022 has seen positive change for many people and communities.

“People were just going out because they wanted to go out,” said Michael Bacigalupo, chief operating officer of the State Theater in Bay City. “They wanted to get back to normal and I think this summer showed that.”

When it comes to tourism, Bacigalupo believes it was the biggest summer Bay County has seen since the pandemic began.

“From free movies, to free concerts, to art shows, to chalk walks, to fireworks festivals, to all the concerts we’ve had,” Bacigalupo said.

This has generated a lot of revenue for businesses in the region.

“The hotels were full, the restaurants were full, the bars were full, the streets were full, and that’s the name of the game, feet in the street and heads in the beds,” Bacigalupo said.

Brandon Massnick is the COO of Downtown Restaurant Investments. He said it was a successful summer for his trio of Bay City restaurants, including Old City Hall, Tavern 101 and Drift.

“A lot of events have brought people to Bay City and people need to eat,” Massnick said.

Massnick said he was happy to be part of an event-driven community.

“It’s good for the community,” Massnick said. “It’s good for the business. It brings people to our city.

It was also a strong summer for weddings and special events.

Brandon Strong, owner of Regent Floral and Mercantile, said business was up.

“We saw an increase of about 30 to 40 percent,” Strong said.

But Strong fears a bad run is imminent.

“The COVID years have been very interesting,” Strong said. “We all thought we were doomed, but people were spending. Now people are stepping back a bit and I think the next few years are going to be tougher than the COVID years.

For his part, Bacigalupo has high expectations for 2023.

“There are some big things happening that we’re working on right now and Bay City is going to be put on the map next year,” Bacigalupo said.

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