For six months, small businesses in Michigan have been battling the effects of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting fall of the economy and problems resulting from racial strife.
On Tuesday, Huntington Bank and the state of Michigan announced a partnership designed to help small businesses navigate all of that.
Officials at Huntington Bancshares Inc., and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $5 billion, five-year lending, investment and philanthropic commitment to help improve financial opportunities for Michigan businesses, consumers and communities.
Part of a $20 billion Community Plan Huntington announced Sept. 1, the Michigan plan was developed in cooperation with Whitmer and Michigan community organizations to ensure the bank’s commitment reflects the needs of all people and businesses throughout the state.
“In this critical time when businesses are confronting the extreme challenge of a public-health crisis, recession and issues related to social equity, Huntington’s purpose of looking out for people calls us to do more for Michigan’s small businesses, consumers and communities,” said Sandy Pierce, Huntington’s director of Private Banking, Insurance Agency, Vehicle Finance and Regional Banking. “We believe this commitment is a very meaningful investment in Michigan’s economic future.”
Details are yet to come. In the next several months, the bank will announce specific initiatives to support small businesses, consumers and communities. The plan will evolve as Huntington continues to listen and take action to meet the changing needs of Michigan’s communities.
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Whitmer hailed the announcement as “great news.”
“Michigan’s small-business owners … have faced unprecedented challenges as we have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic over the past six months,” Whitmer said. “These are Michiganders who have spent their lives building their businesses and who need our help now more than ever. I am proud to work with Huntington Bank as they continue to provide support to our small-business owners and build strong communities in our state, and I’m committed to continue working on behalf of small-business owners as we fight back against COVID-19.”
Huntington’s Pierce acknowledged the state’s rural small businesses and urban micro businesses have “been especially hard hit,” while minority- and women-owned businesses are “seeking opportunities to stabilize and thrive.”
“Our commitment to Michigan’s small businesses reflects the role they play in driving the state’s economy and the foundation they provide for our economic health,” Pierce said.
Huntington’s 2020 Community Plan reflects increased investments in the following areas:
- Access to Capital: Huntington is investing in small businesses, with a special emphasis on those owned by minorities, women and veterans. The bank’s commitment to helping businesses will be bolstered by additional investments in business-planning and educational programs to help bring business owners the relief, recovery and growth they are seeking as the cornerstones of the American economy.
- Affordable Housing and Home Ownership: Huntington is expanding lending programs and educational services to support increased home ownership by minority and low- to moderate-income borrowers throughout the Midwest. The bank’s commitment will enable greater opportunities for first-time home buyers, improve housing security for financially distressed consumers, and create generational wealth building through home ownership. It will also enable home rehabilitation and the refinancing of existing homes to unlock the cash-flow needs of borrowers.
- Community Lending and Investment: Huntington recognizes the barriers to banking that exist for some people and businesses, and the bank is investing toward Michigan’s community efforts related to affordable housing, food security, workforce development and social equity. Huntington believes these areas are fundamental to helping people not only find basic economic security, but also prosper. Huntington also knows that by making communities stronger, it creates additional opportunities for those who live and work there.
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist called it “an opportunity to take a more deliberate approach toward investing in the people and businesses that will have the greatest impact in our communities.”
“I’m excited to see how we can build upon this partnership with Huntington Bank to advance equity in economic growth to ensure that new doors are open to a more diverse group of entrepreneurs at every stage of their business,” Gilchrist said.
Huntington will work with community organizations across the state to implement its Michigan Community Plan.
“Huntington’s extraordinary and timely commitment is welcome news to struggling families and small businesses,” said Hector Hernandez, executive director of Southwest Economic Solutions. “The health and economic crises are disproportionately harming minority communities because of structural inequities in opportunity. Huntington’s community plan takes aim at these inequities by strategically investing in entrepreneurship, homeownership, job training and financial education so that families can build wealth and brighter economic futures.”
“We’re honored to work with many outstanding partners who share our commitment to building stronger communities throughout Michigan,” Pierce said. “Together, we can inspire higher levels of community engagement and deliver new opportunities for all the people we serve.”
At a time when confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan have passed 103,000 and deaths have reached 6,495, the state on Tuesday announced new testing sites.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with community organizations to launch 12 Neighborhood Testing Sites by the end of the week and more than 20 across the state in coming weeks.
Testing will be free and hosted by trusted community partners including churches, community colleges and nonprofit organizations. Locations were chosen in part to help address racial and ethnic disparities that had existed prior to the pandemic and were exacerbated by the virus – a focus of the Racial Disparities Task Force.
“Expanding access to testing will help us protect ourselves, our families, and the brave men and women on the front lines of this crisis. That’s why we are working to remove as many barriers as possible to ensure COVID-19 testing is accessible for all Michiganders,” Whitmer said. “After looking closely at the data and working with community partners, we believe these sites will provide the greatest access to testing for Michiganders across the state. We appreciate the willingness of these community partners to open their doors for this very important effort.”
Three sites have started testing in Detroit with additional sites coming online this week in Albion, Ecorse, Flint, Graying and Roseville. Additional sites are slated in Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Muskegon, Niles, Saginaw and Wayne in coming weeks.
The Detroit Health Department will have volunteers at several testing sites in Detroit to connect community members with a variety of public health programs and human services, such as state benefits, immunizations and lead testing; Women, Infants, and Children food and nutrition program; Detroit Municipal ID and referrals to primary care providers. Language translation will also be provided at all sites, as well as assistance for the deaf and hard of hearing. The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan is providing $55,000 to help support the 11 Southeast Michigan sites.
“These Neighborhood Testing Sites will provide more than a place to get a COVID test,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “We know there are gaps in services in many communities in our state and these locations were chosen in an effort to address as many of these issues as possible.”
Testing sites will offer saliva tests, which are less invasive than nasal swabs and may make the testing process more tolerable for some people. Appointments are strongly encouraged and can be made either by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 and selecting “1” or online. Walk-ins will be taken as space allows, but pre-registration is strongly advised.
Online registration is available at Michigan.gov/CoronavirusTest through Solv. Both patients who book online in advance or walk-in to a testing site can use a mobile device to fill out their information including name, date of birth and phone number.
Michiganders arriving at the neighborhood testing can check-in online to secure their place in line, making it easy for them to safely wait in their car or at a safe social distance from the testing site until their appointment.
Test results can be obtained via phone, email or by logging into the results portal.