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Macomb, Oakland county businesses get federal funding to move beyond pandemic

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Troy — County Executives from Macomb and Oakland announced a partnership Tuesday with Automation Alley to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment and acquire other technology to help area businesses move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leaders, along with Automation Alley executive director and CEO Tom Kelly, met to discuss the PPE Resilience Grant Program and an effort to utilize federal CARES funding, about $10 million from Oakland County and $2 million from Macomb County.

In this Friday, June 12, 2020 file photo, a nurse uses a swab to perform a coronavirus test in Salt Lake City.

The goal is to help small businesses acquire the technology to recover from the pandemic and specifically move into the digital manufacturing age. The funds are part of nearly $4 billion in federal stimulus funds designated for Michigan to help meet COVID-19-related expenses and are in addition to other CARES grants already distributed by the counties to businesses, communities and residents.

“Yesterday, a committee of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners unanimously  approved funding for the PPE Resilience Grant that brings us here today and it will go before the full board on Thursday,” said Coulter during the news conference at Automation Alley offices in Troy.

Coulter said when he convened an Economic Recovery Task Force a few months ago, members expressed the need for “targeted support for our businesses,” public communication and the need to address issues like child care and school reopening.

In the early weeks of the pandemic when critical supplies needed, most were in “desperate shortage.”

“Thankfully, through the generous support of local businesses, we received donations of nearly 1.4 million masks and 200,000 face shields,” Coulter said.

“This grant takes the next step so we avoid a mad scramble that comes by relying on manufacturers in China or with FEMA stopping shipments midstream,” he said. “We need access to the items that will keep our health care and frontline workers, families and workers safe, whether it’s as simple as a mask or as technical as a ventilator.”

Coulter praised Automation Alley’s "robust membership of industry leaders and technology expertise that checks off so many boxes to help our small manufactures acquire the technologies …”

Hackel said “faced with economic uncertainty it is incumbent that we invent ways to aid our business community."

“With the strategic leadership of Automation Alley we are leveraging best global practices to position local companies to be at the forefront of technological innovation and workplace safety.”

Automation Alley represents about 1,000 companies in the region of differing technology.

Last week, Coulter announced that 84 nonprofit organizations would share $9.7 million in grants from the Oakland Together Community Response and Recovery Fund to help groups restore services and programs such as food distribution, shelter and health care that were hit by the pandemic. The recovery fund comes from the federal coronavirus aid and is part of an effort by Coulter and county commissioners to address the effects of the virus on businesses, communities and residents.

Earlier this month, Hackel announced a plan to distribute $20 million in small business sustainability grants through CARES funding. The $5,000 grants are part of the Macomb County CARES for Small Business Program, a $70 million initiative.

The Macomb County Planning and Economic Development agency, which is leading the program, expects the funding will provide direct relief to 4,000 businesses.

As of Tuesday, Oakland County has recorded 11,942 positive cases of the virus including 1,085 deaths. Macomb County has had a total of  7,171 positive cases and 873 related deaths.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319