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Small businesses in Michigan can access $55 million in COVID relief

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Small businesses in Michigan impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for additional grant funds next week — and $4 million of the pot will be available to Detroit businesses. 

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved Thursday the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program, which provides $55 million in grants to eligible small businesses. The application period will run from 9 a.m. Jan. 19 to noon Jan. 22.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday lays out the COVID-19 vaccination plan for Detroit residents that will begin at the TCF Center garage next week.

The additional funding is a result a relief bill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law on Dec. 29. The program is among the nearly two dozen COVID relief programs the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has implemented, officials said, resulting in the distribution of more than $240 million to small businesses across the state.

“From the beginning, my administration has been deeply committed to providing some crucial support to Michigan’s small businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “With these grant programs, we can provide immediate assistance to those businesses. As we work to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and end the pandemic once and for all, I will continue to partner with leaders across the state to provide relief for our small businesses and their employees.”

To qualify, businesses must meet criteria including:

  • Had 1 to 100 employees on Nov. 17, 2020.
  • Is in an industry that demonstrates it is affected by the Department of Health and Human Services epidemic orders.
  • Needs working capital to support expenses including payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments and utility expenses.
  • Can demonstrate an income loss as a result of the order.
  • Is not a live music and entertainment venue eligible for the Michigan Stage Survival grant program, which was also approved Thursday.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. is among 15 economic development organizations preparing to administer funds across all 83 counties. In a press conference, Mayor Mike Duggan urged small businesses in Detroit to apply for the grant. 

"We want you to get those applications in next week so that we can keep our businesses going," Duggan said.

The DEGC will allocate $8,550,000 in funds for Wayne County with $4 million distributed to businesses in Detroit, DEGC CEO Kevin Johnson said. Grants will range from up to $15,000 for business that have been partially closed to up to $20,000 for business that have closed.

Since the pandemic began roughly 10 months ago, Johnson said the DEGC has distributed more than $11 million in grant funds to 1,700 Detroit small businesses.

Frederick Paul, owner of the Fahrenheit 313, a sneaker exchange shop on Livernois, said he's applied for numerous local and federal grants since the start of the pandemic. He's received a few, including one from the Michigan Small Business Restart Program. 

Paul opened his store in early 2020. He said business has been slow due to the pandemic, especially during the winter months, and that's why he plans to apply for this latest grant.

"For me it's a matter of life or death or survival right now, especially with everything going on," he said. "My advice for business owners is to apply. It may seem the chances are slim, but just apply."

Interested businesses can apply at michiganbusiness.org/survival.

cwilliams@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN