LANSING — State Representatives Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) and Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) introduced legislation today that would help small businesses attract customers to local downtowns and shopping districts. House Bills 5485 and 5486 would allow specially designated merchants (SDMs) to, with the approval of their local government, obtain “patio permits” to serve beer and wine in a designated outdoor area.

“For example, a local shop selling wine and cheese could allow customers to consume their purchase on a sidewalk patio as they enjoy the fresh air and sights of the downtown,” Greig said. “Many people, especially young professionals, are attracted to communities with a vibrant entertainment and dining scene. This legislation helps local government create enticing neighborhoods and draw patrons to small businesses.”

Plawecki added, “These bills improve quality of life for residents and boost local economies. This is the kind of legislation that will attract people and businesses alike to Michigan and make our communities more vibrant and desirable.”

To qualify for a patio permit, an SDM must be located in a downtown development authority or principal shopping district, and have an appropriate outdoor service area. The merchant must also employ trained servers who will retain control over opened beer or wine in the service area. Christopher Miller, the director of downtown and economic development for the city of Adrian, supports the bill, which he calls “clear-headed and forward-thinking legislation.”

“To compete in the challenging environment all of our communities find themselves in, it’s imperative that we allow our communities to evolve,” Miller said. “In the context of placemaking great spaces in Michigan communities, I believe this is an important and significant tool that will aid the work that economic developers are doing across the state.”