Toxic conditions at Grand Lake St. Marys have poisoned profits for companies who rely on the lake to stay afloat.
Now, small business owners are launching a comeback.
2 News investigated what they’re doing to lure customers.
Spring is here and the clock is ticking for business owners on Grand Lake St. Marys to turn around their financial pictures.
At the Big Bamboo’s Dockside Grill, owner Dick Cushman has big plans. He’s preparing an upper deck on his restaurant to bring in more customers.
If one eye’s on his finances, the other is on just that, the health of the lake.
This spring, the water is high, but state officials have lifted all advisories that previously banned swimming, boating and eating the fish.
For now, things are looking up.
"We want to bring those tourists back. We want to bring their pocketbooks back, and we want them to have a good time while they’re here," said Donna Grube, Executive Director of the Auglaize and Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The bureau says tourism brings in about $150-million in revenue to the two counties each year.
Since the algae warnings first went out in 2009, that figure has dropped by 25 percent.
At the Outdoorsman, a Saint Mary’s bait shop, that number is much higher.
In fact, the impact was evident in 2009, when word first spread about the toxins which were being released by the algae.
Dan Manning runs the business with his wife and his sons and the family was forced to make tough decisions in a hurry.
Employees had to be let go when the company dropped its marina business.
Manning says he hopes it’s temporary, but that depends solely on what’s happening with the lake.
The state is now conducting a pilot project, using different treatments on specific areas of the lake, then testing their effectiveness.
The city of Celina is also checking the quality of the lake water each week because it uses the lake for its water supply.