Crain's Detroit Business: Matthew Roling on reopening Detroit's businesses

While Detroit officials work to stem the city's continuing coronavirus crisis, a simultaneous effort is under way to bring government and business back. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan thinks Detroit will lead the country in reopening businesses, he said last week during a daily coronavirus response briefing in Eastern Market, because it'll use medical evidence to dictate when that happens — "not based on anybody's political position." How the government comes back will likely affect what businesses decide to do, though their success will also be determined by the market. A company that isn't public-facing may rely on government example and regulations to dictate how it reopens, said Matthew Roling, a professor of accounting, executive director of Wayne State University's Office of Business Innovation and interim chair for the Department of Accounting at the Mike Ilitch School of Business. Brick-and-mortar and restaurant businesses, though, will be more at the mercy of public perception. "It doesn't really matter what Lansing or Detroit says ... because the only thing that matters is if your customers and employees have the perception of safety," Roling said, adding that he's "scared to death" for small restaurants and retail whose livelihoods rely on packing members of the public into a small space. He said occupancy standards will be one of the most important state government tools as public-facing businesses reopen.

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