The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities. These communities have been receiving technical assistance through services and trainings that deliver economic development strategies, resources, and final products that strengthen businesses and local Main Street organizations negatively impacted by the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Historic Independence Square in Independence, Missouri is home to Corporate Copy Print who has serviced countless clients for their communication needs over the past 27+ years. Prior to 2020, the owner of Corporate Copy Print had been planning on a succession plan for a while. No matter the size or age of a company, transitions can be rough. Corporate Copy Print is an anchor business for the local economy. It was important to get the succession of its owners correct for the longevity of the business and the health of the local economy. The planning was good and the timing was right for the retirement of the founding owner, yet leadership was struggling with identifying the best way to achieve the transition.
Then, in March 2020, Corporate Copy Print experienced a devastating blow. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Corporate Copy Print went from a booming print shop with a staff of twelve to a ghost town of two within ten short days. Despite the company’s increased productivity through investment in equipment, streamlining of processes, and their long-time emphasis on diversification, the damage was done by the pandemic shutdowns and slowed economy. As time passed and companies were able to resume business in limited capacity with safety measures in place, business picked up again and, along with the Payroll Protection Plan, the business was able to call back most of their staff.
The owner of Corporate Copy Print saw the opportunity in the Downtown Strong Grant to work with professionals to address their top needs and help them recover from the punch of 2020. They needed help with a transition plan and, realizing that social media is key, help with a social media plan and engagement. To address the needs of the company, they were connected with two consultants, one to help with the transition and one to address their social media marketing needs.
MarksNelson worked with Corporate Copy Print to analyze their business and provide clarifying direction for their succession plans that had been in place. The plan had been to transition ownership to an employee that had been working in the business for over five years, but there were a lot of considerations and they needed a little guidance. Owner Tom Waters remarked that the information provided by MarksNelson really helped with their transition which is now in process.
Pictured above left to right: New owners Jeff McLaughlin and Emily Penrose McLaughlin and previous owners Tom Waters and Susan Waters.
On the social media side, Mysamaris worked with Corporate Copy Print on developing a plan to increase their engagement. They knew this was a key area of marketing they needed to focus on. Reaching their current and potential clients with engaging and consistent messaging was an identified struggle. Mysamaris guided them through the process of developing a plan, a calendar, and budget suggestions along with tips on implementation that would engage their clients in a way that would set them apart from their competitors by reflecting their desired brand identity of being lighthearted and fun.
The Downtown Strong Grant helped Corporate Copy Print through a transition process that businesses don’t always survive. Tom noted that assistance through the Downtown Strong Grant “could help the next owner keep this Main Street business viable for another 27 years.” Transferring the ownership from the long-time owner to an employee took a strategic, deliberate, and well-timed plan. Corporate Copy Print and its owners not only made it through the transition, but are thriving on the other side!
The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.