BATTLE CREEK — The city of Battle Creek’s economic development agency has doubled its emergency loan fund to $1 million as more small businesses are impacted by the coronavirus.
Battle Creek Unlimited Inc. announced the fund, which started at $500,000 for food and beverage companies, last week. The agency had processed nine loan applications by Wednesday, with requests totalling more than $400,000.
The agency will now take a “broader approach” with the additional funds following an executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whiter that closed non-essential businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19, said Battle Creek Unlimited President Joe Sobieralski.
“We’re trying to take care of the most vulnerable businesses,” Sobieralski said.
Battle Creek Unlimited is one of several organizations in West Michigan that has created resources beyond what the state is offering for businesses that have scaled back or closed because of the pandemic.
The state created two funds totaling $20 million to support grants and low-interest loans to small businesses during the pandemic. Sobieralski said Battle Creek Unlimited’s board realized it needed to act quickly to help Battle Creek’s businesses.
Other communities have taken measures to support their small businesses during the pandemic.
The Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership initiated the Downtown Kalamazoo Gift Card Stimulus Program, which added $10 to any $25 gift card purchased for a participating downtown business. In total, more than 650 individuals purchased 2,000 gift cards across nearly 70 downtown businesses, bringing in $70,000.
On Tuesday, the Muskegon City Commission approved $150,000 in emergency loans for businesses in the Lakeside Business District that have struggled from a road construction project, as well as forced closures due to coronavirus.
Sobieralski told MiBiz that Battle Creek Unlimited is willing to help other organizations and municipalities establish their own funds for businesses.
“Time is really of the essence,” Sobieralski said. “If they don’t have cash infusions by the end of this month, it’s going to adversely affect them to the point where they may close or it’s going to put them behind companies that can take advantage of programs.”