One of the biggest concerns companies have expressed as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer begins to loose restrictions on businesses trying to reopen is the requirement for and availability of personal protective equipment.
Standards outlined in an executive order signed recently by Whitmer require levels of PPE and other safeguards for reopening businesses. And now the state, through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, is offering a way for business owners to get what they need.
The Pure Michigan Business Connect program through the MEDC has developed a portal specifically designed to support the personal protective equipment needs of Michigan businesses as they start the process of reopening.
“We want to ensure we are opening up in a way that is safe, smart and does not undo the progress we have made in flattening the curve of COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a release on Wednesday. “Through the PMBC COVID-19 Procurement Platform we can help employers access the PPE they need to ensure their employees feel safe returning to work, while also supporting Michigan businesses that will be critical to economic recovery efforts.”
Through the free PMBC COVID-19 Procurement Platform, the PMBC team will work to connect those businesses in need of access to PPE – including face masks, face shields, gloves, goggles and other materials as necessary to ensure the health and safety of their employees and customers – with Michigan businesses that have supplier capacity to meet that demand.
The online portal can be accessed at www.michiganbusiness.org/ppe and is open to companies of all sizes and industries and is available for all scales of PPE demand.
MEDC CEO Mark Burton called the platform a “critical tool in supporting economic recovery efforts” across the state.
“This next phase builds on successful efforts … to support the production of more than 5.5 million individual PPE supplies in Michigan as well as connect health and human service needs in the fight against COVID-19 with Michigan businesses providing critical supplies,” Burton said.
Both Michigan businesses in need of PPE, as well as businesses with goods and services that might be able to support organizations in safeguarding their employees and customers as they transition to in-person operations, are encouraged to submit information on the portal.
Those businesses with supplier capabilities may be added to a supplier database that will then be made available to businesses with PPE procurement needs. While PMBC will curate an initial list of suppliers, the businesses themselves will be responsible for reaching out to suppliers directly to inquire about procurement needs.
Upon receiving supplier submissions through the platform, the PMBC team is checking to determine whether these entities have reputable websites, email contacts and products that would support the demand for various forms of PPE throughout the state.
Businesses using this list of suppliers are encouraged to conduct their own due diligence as well, as the PMBC team and MEDC do not make any representations about the quality of the goods or services provided by each entity nor guarantee they will have immediate supply stock or service availability.
“We have a proven model for connecting buyers with a vast network of suppliers across Michigan,” said Natalie Chmiko, Vice President, Pure Michigan Business Connect & International Trade at the MEDC. “As we focus those efforts on the urgent need for non-medical grade PPE, we will be able to both streamline the procurement process and help Michigan businesses find new opportunities for growth while helping to keep Michigan’s workforce safe.”
In March, PMBC launched its free, online procurement platform, including donations from suppliers capable of filling health and human service needs across a broad range of product and service categories. The platform provided direct access to businesses within the state providing supplies including personal protection equipment, food, medical devices, paper products, cleaning equipment and more.
To date, more than 900 Michigan companies with procurement needs have registered through the portal along with nearly 1,800 suppliers, including Detroit City Distillery.
Detroit City Distillery adapted its manufacturing facility in 72 hours to produce hand sanitizer for the region’s first responders and frontline workers in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The company was able to distribute more than 21,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to health care institutions, municipalities and other essential businesses across the region, including 5,000 gallons to the Michigan State Emergency Operations Center and Michigan State Police.
Detroit City Distillery co-owner Michael Forsyth said the hand-sanitizer production, which began March 20, has kept the distillery “incredibly busy.” To date, DCD has supplied more than 15,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to those battling COVID-19.
“It’s been an incredibly hard time to be a small-business owner,” added Forsyth. “The silver lining in all of this is, we’ve been able to help thousands of Michiganders serving on the front line by shifting our operations. We were called to step up, and we did. That’s the Detroit way.”
Helping to drive the ‘Arsenal of Innovation’ in the state, twelve small businesses and nonprofits around Michigan were also awarded a total of $1 million through the Pure Michigan Business Connect COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants program. The program, launched in April, offered grant funding for small manufacturers looking to retool and produce critical health and human service supplies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and is expected to support the production of more than 5.5 million individual PPE supplies.