UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) — As part of the Michigan Small Business Restart Program, a combined $4.5 million has been awarded to 730 businesses and non-profits across the Upper Peninsula.
Businesses located in each of the 15 U.P. counties received awards as a response to the continuing, profound economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grant eligibility was contingent upon a business or non-profit employing 50 employees or fewer, being physically located in the U.P., and demonstrating that the business or non-profit:
- Is part of an industry or non-profit that can show it has been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency
- Needs working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses
- Demonstrates an income loss as result of the COVID-19 emergency as determined by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF)
Through the legislature and with approval from the Administration, the State of Michigan allocated $115 million of CARES Act funding received from the federal government to implement the Michigan Small Business Restart Program to support the needs of businesses throughout the State that were directly impacted by COVID-19.
“Over the past six months, small business owners who have spent their entire lives building their businesses have made incredible sacrifices to protect their communities and our brave frontline workers from COVID-19. I know it hasn’t been easy, which is why we’re working around the clock to provide support for our small business owners. The Michigan Small Business Restart Program is providing much-needed relief to those small businesses and nonprofits hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19 as they work to recover from the pandemic,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
“This program puts federal funding to work for Michigan’s small businesses and builds on additional COVID-19 business relief efforts offered by the MEDC to create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery.”
This funding was directed to the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to support small businesses by providing funding through local economic development organizations throughout the State.
In the Upper Peninsula, the MEDC designated InvestUP as the fiduciary of $4.5 million in grant funding to allocate to U.P. small businesses.
InvestUP partnered with stakeholders from across the region to solicit and process applications as well as score the 1,330 applications that were received from around the U.P.
“We are so grateful to our federal and state legislators, the Governor and our partners at the Michigan Strategic Fund and the MEDC for making this funding available to Upper Peninsula businesses. Despite their incredible efforts to muscle through this crisis, the number of applications we received from small businesses further illustrates the profound need that the small business community has to manage this unprecedented challenge – which has also further demonstrated that small businesses are the heartbeat of the local economy,” said Marty Fittante, CEO of InvestUP.
“Judging from the number of heartfelt messages we received from the grantees who were selected, it is clear that for many, this funding was truly a lifeline. Our one regret is that we did not have the funds to address the needs of all who applied as selecting recipients here was so difficult, as those businesses and non-profits that were not fortunate enough to receive an award were very deserving and in need as well.”
“Receiving the Michigan Restart Grant was a life-saver for me and my salon,” said Kate Chaperon, owner of The Good Earth Salon in Iron Mountain.
“During the COVID shutdown, there were many times as a small business owner where I wondered if we would make it through. Without the deferral of most bills, and with my family having two small business as our only sources of income, savings accounts dwindled, and talks were had about selling assets. The Restart Grant helped us get back on our feet. It was an opportunity to help with payroll expenses, taxes due, and overhead. Words cannot express my gratitude for this opportunity. I am thankful for the people that made this happen and overjoyed that The Good Earth Salon was a recipient.”
Clare Tasson, the owner of Pine Grove Bar in Republic said, “The grant has helped pay the bills that we needed to pay. It has been a great help and has been wonderful for us to have. We are getting caught up on everything. It has helped our bar so much.”
Of the funding awarded through this program, the legislature required at least 30% of that allocation to be awarded to eligible businesses that were women-owned, minority- owned, or veteran owned.
That statutory threshold apparently motivated business owners from these three communities to apply for the grant in the Upper Peninsula, as women-owned, veteran-owned and minority-owned businesses made up nearly 49% of all applicants, with nearly a like number of those applicants being selected.
The average grant award across all U.P. counties is just under $6,000.
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