Thursday, April 15, 2021

$52.5 million in relief awarded to small businesses across Michigan

February 23, 2021
<p>A sign showing that businesses are open despite recent COVID-19 outbreaks in downtown East Lansing is pictured Jun. 30, 2020.</p>

A sign showing that businesses are open despite recent COVID-19 outbreaks in downtown East Lansing is pictured Jun. 30, 2020.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program allocated over $52.5 million to almost 6,000 small businesses across Michigan impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 50,000 jobs were retained because of the grant. 

Owner of East Lansing Hot Yoga Patty Sutherland said, "It helped pay my rent, it helped my payroll when I was reopened [and] utilities."

Over 50 counties in Michigan received funding from the program. Wayne County received the most money at $8,550,000 while Macomb County retained more jobs at 9,730. The program granted businesses that were fully closed up to $20,000 and $15,000 to businesses that were partially closed.

"When you get a jumpstart like that it really helps you get going again," Bret Story general manager at Mayfair Bar said.

The applications were reviewed by 15 Economic Development Organizations (EDO) who administered the funds to applications including the Lansing Economic Area Partnership which received $3,050,000 for Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties.

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The Michigan Strategic Fund approved the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program on Jan. 14. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law SB 748 that allowed the State of Michigan to appropriate the funds. 

“The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program provides crucial support to Michigan’s small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release on Feb. 17. 

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) began accepting applications on Jan. 19. Eligible applicants were required to: 

  • Have 1 to 100 employees (including full-time, part-time and owner/employees) on a world-wide basis on Nov. 17, 2020. 

  • Be in an industry that demonstrated it was affected by the Department of Health and Human Services epidemic orders. 

  • Needed working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses. 

  • Demonstrated an income loss as a result of the Order as determined by the EDO in which an eligible business is located. 

  • Was not a live music and entertainment venue eligible for the Michigan Stage Survival grant program. Grant awards for the program to be announced in the coming weeks. 

  

Since the start of the pandemic, the MEDC has launched over 23 relief programs that have supported small businesses. 

“These grants, combined with additional business relief efforts offered by the MEDC, will create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery,” Gov. Whitmer said in the release.

Whitmer's COVID-19 Recovery plan includes $225 million in funding for three additional programs aimed at helping small businesses.

The three programs will target small businesses that are on main streets (Michigan Mainstreet Initiative), smaller businesses with less than nine employees (The Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative) and high-tech startup companies (The Michigan Accelerator and Resiliency Recovery Initiative).

However, the Michigan GOP threatened to withhold federal funding, which the Governors plan relied on, unless she allowed local health departments to decide to open school or not.

"The governor is trying to do more, but she is being stymied by her republican legislature," Sutherland said. "So, yes they should do more. It was an incredibly rough year for me, and yoga studios and restaurants and all the others who were impacted."

Since March 2020, restaurants have gone through several phases including complete shutdown, carry-out only, outdoor dining and now limited capacity.

"We can't live off of grants. We got to get back normal to start generating some sort of income. Nobody can operate with 25% or even 50% occupancy," Igor Jurkovic owner of Mediteran Cafe said. "As much as it helps, I've been closed since March. Basically, we're talking a full year of expenses."

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