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Grants offered for small businesses, farms, food processors in Michigan

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Small businesses, farms and food processors across Michigan will have access to funding through two grant programs the state approved Tuesday.

The Michigan Strategic Fund Board voted Tuesday to establish the Michigan Small Business Restart Program and the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program in support of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting July 15, businesses can apply for grants in either program. The funding is provided through the state's allotment of federal CARES Act money.

Small businesses, farms and food processors across Michigan will have access to funding through two grant programs the state approved Tuesday.

In the Michigan Small Business Restart Program, businesses that have been hurt by COVID-19 can apply for a grant of up to $20,000. The funds can be used for things including payroll, utilities and rent or mortgage payments.

The Michigan Strategic Fund will distribute $100 million to 15 local economic development organizations covering 83 counties of Michigan.

Mark Burton, chief executive officer of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said he expects a high demand for the grants. 

"There’s considerable need out there," he said. "We expect a high demand especially for this pool of funds. The eligible expenses are a bit broader than some of the other programs that have been deployed... There’s a need that we continue to see in all corners of the state largely because we continue to be half capacity limitations on restaurants. There are still other closures and there’s obviously a fear that we’re not going to be reopening as quickly as we thought given some of the activity that we’re seeing especially across the country.”

At least 30% of the grant funding will be allotted for women, minority and veteran-owned businesses. 

Under the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program, agricultural processors will be able to apply for grants between $10,000 and $200,000.

Farms statewide can apply for grants between $10,000 and $50,000.

According to the state, an applicant can be a farm or processor, but not both. Funds will cover grants of up to $1,000 per employee to cover costs including personal protection equipment, increased sanitation costs, employee training and upgrades to safety procedures for farm-provided housing.

The Michigan Strategic Fund will distribute $10 million to agricultural processors and $5 million to farms statewide.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture sector has been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 virus, and this investment will provide critical resources to ensure the safety of the state’s food production industry and its workforce,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement Tuesday.

The website for the Michigan Small Business Restart Program is https://www.michiganbusiness.org/restart/. The website for the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program is https://www.michiganbusiness.org/agsafety/.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN