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.
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.
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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