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.
MEDC will provide a total of $500,000 in matching grants through the MI Local Biz crowdfunding program. Funds must be used by the businesses for working capital needs in order to maintain ongoing operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are a vital part of the state’s economy, and this program offers innovative access to capital for those businesses currently experiencing a loss in revenue directly related to the COVID-19 crisis,” MEDC CEO Mark Burton said in a statement. “Helping our local businesses to successfully reopen lays a path for economic recovery in communities across the state, while offering patrons an opportunity to support businesses in a time of need.”
The MI Local Biz crowdfunding launched in May and builds on the MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program, in which residents can use crowdfunding for strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. MI Local Biz allows small businesses to use donation-based crowdfunding through Michigan-based Patronicity’s existing platform.
“I was absolutely blown away to be chosen for the MI Local Biz grant matching program,” said Cori Williams, owner of Beer City Barre in Grand Rapids. “I know there are so many deserving businesses out there, and I do not take this amazing opportunity for granted. The support of the community rallying around small businesses like mine is inspiring, and it gives many people like myself a glimpse of hope as we make our way out of this unprecedented time.”
Williams said the funding will be used to cover basic expenses that have been hard to meet with the loss in sales over the last few months, including rent, software, utilities and instructor pay.
Businesses in 42 counties are participating in the MI Local Biz program. Campaigns are continuing to go live and will be added to the program’s website on a regular basis.
Examples of the types of businesses that are participating include restaurants, bars, coffee shops, cafes, salons, day spas, yoga studios, historic theaters, retail shops, art galleries, recreation businesses and many other small businesses retailing products or providing services in a face-to-face physical location within the state of Michigan.
Amy Polk, owner of Applecore General Store in the Les Cheneaux Islands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, said partnering with the MEDC for the crowdfunding campaign is an “incredible opportunity.”
“With any funds raised, I will be able to directly reinvest in other Michigan makers who provide products for the store by replenishing the store’s inventory in preparation for shopping to resume across the state,” Polk said. “Funds raised will also help cover the costs of establishing new health and safety measures at the store, including masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for customers who need them.”