$75M Fund to Help Michigan Small Businesses Hurt by COVID

$75M Fund to Help Michigan Small Businesses Hurt by COVID

Michigan small businesses devastated by state COVID lockdown restrictions can apply to tap a one-time $75 million fund from federal taxpayers.

In February, the Michigan legislature passed into law the $75 million Small Business Smart Zones and Business Accelerators initiative. The fund is a one-time appropriation using American Rescue Plan Act funds to support small businesses disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to announce the new program. In Michigan, small business growth has surged with 137,000 new small business applications submitted in 2022, partly caused by a flood of businesses permanently closing during the pandemic.

“Ensuring our small businesses are positioned to grow and create good jobs across Michigan is critical as we continue to grow Michigan’s economy and build a brighter future for our residents,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Thriving small businesses are vital to our state’s economy, and these federal funds will provide economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs and small businesses with timely financing to build up their business, create jobs for their friends and neighbors and support their community’s vibrancy along the way.”

During COVID, Whitmer shuttered some industries, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and gyms, for more than five months.

Small Business Support Hubs will bring resources to small businesses by funding entrepreneurial hubs for operations, programming and direct support to small businesses. The program will provide up to $6 million to entrepreneurial hubs to invest in regional operations and deployment support services, as well as direct grant support to small businesses that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Cultivate a more inclusive, accessible and integrated tech and small business entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Increase the number of businesses served through new programming, technical assistance and support services.
  • Expand the geographic reach of network partners into underserved communities and rural areas.

Eligible applicants have physical spaces that provide entrepreneurs with resources including one-on-one coaching, consultations, workshops, seminars, incubation activities and networking and mentorship opportunities and events.

The Michigan Strategic Fund will select grantees through an open and competitive application process. Applications will be accepted from July 10 to Sept. 8. Information will be provided to all parties via a webinar from 9:30–10:30 a.m. EST July 11.

The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved the new Michigan Innovate Capital Fund Program, to award incentives to nonprofit organizations that operate fund programs to invest in pre-seed and startup stage competitive edge technologies that require capital in the earliest stages of the commercialization process. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate an ability and willingness to invest in high-growth technology-based companies that are primarily in the earliest stages of commercialization.

Nonprofits that have previously received financial support from MSF or MEDC are eligible to apply; those that have not received previous funding from MSF or MEDC but deploy capital exclusively in Michigan and can demonstrate how they will use funding to create jobs and drive sustained, long-term growth are also eligible. Preference will be given to nonprofits based in underserved locations that address the funding gap in underrepresented industries.

The program received a $23 million allocation from the Jobs for Michigan investment fund and awards of up to $5 million will be made to qualifying organizations.

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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