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Smyrna Tavern & Table owner Jennifer Bosch. Smyrna Tavern & Table owner Jennifer Bosch. COURTESY PHOTO

State awards nearly 6,000 businesses with COVID-19 relief grants

BY Wednesday, February 17, 2021 01:56pm

State officials announced today that nearly 6,000 Michigan businesses have received grant funding totaling $52.5 million under a COVID-19 relief program signed into law late last year.

The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant program earlier this year distributed the funding to 15 economic development organizations across the state, which awarded grants of up to $20,000 or $15,000 to eligible businesses.

Grand Rapids-based The Right Place Inc. distributed $5.25 million to 426 businesses in an 11-county region in West Michigan; Lakeshore Advantage distributed $1.83 million to 187 businesses in Allegan and Ottawa counties; the Lansing Economic Area Partnership delivered $3.05 million to 194 businesses in mid-Michigan; and Southwest Michigan First distributed $4.15 million to 279 businesses in seven Southwest Michigan counties. 

State officials reported today that 5,960 businesses, particularly in the hospitality and entertainment sectors, benefited from the program and retained 52,576 jobs.

“Financial lifelines like the Michigan Small Business Survival Grants are so important because the funding ensures local restaurants, exercise facilities and recreational venues that serve residents and visitors alike have a chance to rebound despite the significant challenges related to COVID-19 over the past year,” Holly Johnson, chair of Lakeshore Advantage’s grant review committee, said in a statement.

Belding-based Smyrna Tavern & Table used a $5,874 grant to help “cover payroll while sales revenue steadily increases,” owner Jennifer Bosch said in a statement.

“The key to surviving the COVID-19 crisis is to continually pivot and look for new ways of doing business,” Bosch added. “We have focused on heated, outdoor service because safety protocols and capacity limitations would not allow for sales high enough to cover even a fraction of raw material and labor costs.

“We restocked food and alcohol supplies to offer a more robust menu, instead of buying bare minimums or running out and losing potential sales. These important funds have also helped cover our mortgage and utilities, which hopefully means our recovery can focus less on lagging debt and more on rebuilding.”

Newaygo-based Northern Trails Bar & Grille received a $10,856 grant to help cover the restaurant’s payroll costs.

Owner Stephanie Barret said in an announcement about the program today that payroll costs “have been crippling during the dine-in shut down and due to the specific nature of our establishment. … In addition, we have an obligation to our loyal staff to do as much as possible to keep them afloat, so the grant allowed for us to have a small bit of breathing room. These last 10 months have rocked our industry and the ability to obtain this grant has given us a small bit of relief that we are very grateful for.” 

Earlier this month, restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen for dine-in service at 25 percent capacity. Businesses that were partially closed or otherwise open qualified for grants of up to $15,000, while businesses that have been fully closed qualified for up to $20,000 grants.

The program was open to businesses with one to 100 employees that could demonstrate they were affected by statewide emergency epidemic orders and needed working capital for payroll, rent, mortgage and utility payments. The businesses also had to show an income loss as a result of epidemic orders.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the grants will “create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery.”

“The Michigan Small Business Survival Program is providing significant support to small businesses helping to get them through this critical time and on the path to economic recovery,” Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Mark Burton said in a statement. “We are thankful for the efforts of our economic development partners, who worked swiftly and diligently to deliver these vital financial resources within their regions and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses throughout Michigan.”

Read 7328 times Last modified on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 16:50