Small Business


If an employer follows the rules and complies with requirements to maintain a safe workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic, business advocates argue the company should not have to face liability claims if someone there contracts the coronavirus.

BELMONT — As many people stayed home and ventured out less for several weeks during the closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, auto insurers responded.

Wenger’s Bowling Center, the oldest bowling facility in Grand Rapids, has hosted patrons for the last 100 years, but not so much in the last four and a half months.

HOLLAND — When officials with the Park Theatre first decided to close in early March because of concerns of spreading COVID-19, they weren’t anticipating a complete lack of concerts or events in the historic venue for months to come.

More than half of Michigan retailers had higher sales in June from the prior month and expect about the same sales volume through the summer and into fall, according to a recent survey.

Running a small business is stressful enough, and then small business owners recently have had to deal with operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, which only magnifies that stress. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Bing Goei, who owns Eastern Floral and The Goei Center event venue, hopes more people take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously so economic conditions don’t worsen for businesses like his.

A pair of state grant funds totaling $115 million launches today as another source of financial assistance for small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kent County officials have provided $40,000 to help minority business owners facing language barriers access COVID-19 relief funding.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. plans to launch new grant funds next week totaling $115 million to provide financial assistance to small businesses, farms and agricultural processors recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a sector with already thin margins, restaurants and other small food businesses are just looking to stay above water as pandemic restrictions slowly lift.

couple of small business deals Andrew Longcore has been approached about lately illustrate the effects on the M&A market this year from the COVID-19 pandemic.

GRAND RAPIDS — Alternative lender Liquid Finance LLC completed its first deal last month with financing for a Pennsylvania-based maker of farm equipment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed deal flow for Jon Siebers, an M&A attorney at Grand Rapids-based law firm Rhoades McKee PC. Siebers said closings are down and the number of deals he has in the pipeline are “probably down a little bit, but not much.” Siebers spoke with MiBiz about how the pandemic has affected the M&A market and offered some advice for both buyers and sellers.

GRAND RAPIDS — When the coronavirus pandemic hit, a pair of Grand Rapids natives scrapped their initial plans to open a cigar lounge on the city’s south side, deciding instead that a fresh food market and weekly farmers market would be a better resource for their neighborhood.

For nearly five years, the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan has helped Grand Rapids property owners reduce their energy usage and hosts an annual competition celebrating the “biggest losers” statewide.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce expects to receive up to 1,000 applications by the end of the week from across Kent County from small businesses seeking assistance from a $25 million grant fund set up to ease the economic crush of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Kent County small business relief program opened its second round of funding today, making grants available to companies that have already received COVID-19 assistance.

TRAVERSE CITY — Private equity-backed CloudAccess LLC, a Northern Michigan-based cloud hosting provider, has completed the add-on acquisition of Miller Media Inc. 

Kent County’s top official says it is “critically important” that a $25 million business relief program launched this week is accessible to minority-owned businesses, following recent criticism that the program isn’t properly compensating minority business and social equity groups for their assistance.

Michigan retail sales remained in the “tank” during May as many stores remained closed, although a monthly survey and activity index suggest a rebound this summer after reopening.

Eight Grand Rapids technology startups are among dozens of businesses statewide selected to receive a combined $3 million from Michigan’s Tech Start Up Stabilization Fund.

Two Michigan congressmen behind legislation that would create a $50.5 billion relief fund for small businesses nationwide hope to get it included in the next federal aid package that may come before Congress this summer.

KENTWOOD — The coronavirus pandemic has caused many businesses to make staff cuts, but Wise Men Distillery LLC hired two new employees to assist with its shift to producing large quantities of hand sanitizer for manufacturers and state agencies.

MUSKEGON — The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the owner of the Waters Edge Fitness gym to get creative by offering online resources for members over the past several months that the facility has been shut down.

CALEDONIA — Mark “Crab” Reagan spent his morning wandering around his tattoo shop cleaning, organizing, providing a handful of clients with art consultations — pretty much anything other than actually tattooing.

Forming a relief fund to aid small businesses hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic was an early idea Kent County commissioners pursued when they began considering two months ago what to do with $114.6 million in federal aid funding. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce partnered to form a $25 million relief fund for small businesses.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has awarded $4.3 million in low-interest relief loans to 74 small businesses statewide affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes to a federal loan program that has helped small businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic could generate a “huge uptick” in loan demand that has waned in the last few weeks, according to U.S. Small Business Administration officials.

GRAND RAPIDS — The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the opening of a coworking space this summer in the historic Harris Building downtown, so the business is pivoting to offer digital memberships. 

GRAND RAPIDS — While most small businesses have been struggling and closing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Central District Cyclery has been overwhelmed with business over the last few months.

Changes approved by Congress to the federal Paycheck Protection Program would give millions of small businesses more time to use the money and adjust how much of the loan needs to go to payroll expenses to earn forgiveness.

One in seven small business owners in Michigan still doubts whether their company will survive the COVD-19 pandemic and resulting closures ordered by the state.

LANSING — More than 100 small businesses across the state can use the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s crowdfunding platform throughout June, gaining access to a matching grant from the MEDC of up to $5,000.

A coalition of barber shops, spas and salons today urged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow them to reopen with precautions in place.

 After approving more loans in six weeks than during the prior nearly 60 years combined, the U.S. Small Business Administration now looks to provide debt forgiveness to borrowers.

KALAMAZOO — The 121-year-old Continental Linen Services Inc. helps customers keep their workplaces sanitary and clean. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan plans to give small businesses and other policyholders rate relief this summer as a result of lower medical claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New grant funds by the state and in Kalamazoo, as well as a loan fund in Grand Haven, are the latest efforts to provide relief to small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

GRAND RAPIDS — Full-service machine shop Grand Rapids Electric Motor Service LLC has been acquired by an individual investor. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Coming off of strong sales in 2019, executives at Sharpe Cars had plans to reinvest capital into the company’s showrooms and facilities. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Music venues across the U.S. are caught in a coronavirus quandary. 

GRAND RAPIDS — In a matter of months, the coronavirus pandemic transformed a Grand Rapids-based independent bookseller’s business model.

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP — The Meat Block Inc.’s restaurant accounts have taken a big hit due to COVID-19, but the Muskegon-area retail store and online orders have kept the Anderson family busy. 

HUDSONVILLE — Nearly all of Suburban Inns Inc.’s more than 1,000 hotel rooms in West Michigan are sitting empty.

GRAND RAPIDS — Listening to records during the stay-at-home order may seem essential for passionate music lovers, but during this pandemic, vinyl shops have been closed to the public since mid March.

GRAND RAPIDS — Technology firms like Carnevale ID Inc. are designed to react quickly to changes and create new innovations for clients.