MEDC Has Helped Nearly 6,000 Businesses With $52 Million in Grants

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used her COVID-19 update Wednesday to once again call on the state Legislature to move on her state COVID recovery plan, which would put millions of dollars to use fighting the financial effects of the virus response.

Meanwhile, though, businesses are getting help from other sources, namely the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Small Business Survival Grant program, which so far has doled out some $52.5 million to nearly 6,000 businesses across the state.

“The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program provides crucial support to Michigan’s small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said. “These grants, combined with additional business relief efforts offered by the MEDC, will create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery. As we distribute the safe and effective vaccine and work to end the pandemic once and for all, I will continue partnering with leaders across the state and urging passage of the MI COVID Recovery plan to provide relief for our small businesses, protect public health and jumpstart our economy.” 

Approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund on Jan. 14, the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program allocated $55 million to provide support to Michigan small businesses to meet the urgent need of businesses that experienced a significant financial hardship due to COVID-19 emergency “gatherings and face mask orders.”

The program allowed for grants of up to $20,000 to be awarded to businesses that are fully closed, with grants of up to $15,000 awarded to businesses that have been partially closed, or otherwise are open and can demonstrate an impact.  A total of 5% of overall funding for the program was able to go toward administrative costs of the economic development organizations administering the grants. 

The State of Michigan appropriated the funds through SB 748, signed into law by Whitmer, to support Michigan’s small businesses that have been especially impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Michigan Small Business Survival Grants program was administered by 15 local or nonprofit economic development organizations covering all 83 counties across the state. The full list of EDOs administering the grants, the counties they served, and the number of businesses supported is below. 

Yen Yoga & Fitness in Traverse City received a $20,000 Survival grant awarded by Networks Northwest and owner Sara Harding said she is grateful for the funds, which will allow her studio to deliver services to the community and help sustain her teachers. 

“Yen Yoga & Fitness is honored to be a recipient of a survival grant from the MEDC,” Harding said. “This grant will directly assist our amazing team as our industry has been tremendously impacted due to the pandemic. We know that the pandemic impacts everyone, and we will continue to do what we can to support our community through health and wellness.”

To see the full list of businesses that received Survival grants, visit https://www.michiganbusiness.org/survival/.  

Northern Trails Bar & Grille in Newaygo was the recipient of a $10,856 Survival grant awarded by The Right Place and, according to owner Stephanie Barret, the funds helped cover the restaurant’s high payroll costs. 

“It allowed us to cover payroll in our high-volume establishment,” Barrett said. “Our payroll costs have been crippling during the dine-in shut down and due to the specific nature of our establishment, we are only able to reduce payroll costs so far. In addition, we have an obligation to our loyal staff to do as much as possible to keep them afloat, so the grant allowed for us to have a small bit of breathing room.

“These last 10 months have rocked our industry and the ability to obtain this grant has given us a small bit of relief that we are very grateful for,” she added.

MEDC CEO Mark Burton said the program is “providing significant support” to small businesses “helping to get them through this critical time.”

“We are thankful for the efforts of our economic development partners, who worked swiftly and diligently to deliver these vital financial resources within their regions and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses throughout Michigan,” Burton said.