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Published in Small Business

State resilience fund provides $1.5M boost to more than 300 small businesses

BY Tuesday, November 24, 2020 05:33pm

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer met virtually today with small business owners who received support from a state grant program and discussed the importance that additional federal support would have on their businesses. 

The $1.5 million Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund has supported more than 300 small businesses that struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds helped small businesses manage expenses, including rent, payroll and inventory. The fund also provided working capital to assist with strengthening a company’s online presence or helping it pivot to meet a new demand that was caused by COVID-19.

Gov. Whitmer COURTESY PHOTO

The resilience fund includes a $500,000 contribution from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and $1 million from Michigan Women Forward’s SBA microlending funds, as well as support from a group of corporations. Since the fund launched in May, Michigan Women Forward has added partners to boost the initiative’s longevity with the goal of supporting more small businesses into 2021.

Through various programs, the MEDC has supported more than 18,500 Michigan businesses during the pandemic, said MEDC CEO Mark Burton. 

“It’s been a privilege to work with small businesses throughout Michigan during this COVID crisis,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of Michigan Women Forward. “We’ve been able to help so many deserving businesses reopen their businesses and find ways to pivot and survive.”

Osta’s Lebanese Cuisine in East Grand Rapids was one of the small businesses that secured funding from the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund. The restaurant closed to protect its employees and customers when the pandemic first hit Michigan, but was able to reopen safely with help from the resilience fund, which helped the business secure personal protective equipment.

“Although our restaurant has suffered a huge financial loss, we have full intentions to move forward with our business and the grant helped us to reopen earlier this year,” Diane Aouad, co-owner of Osta’s Lebanese Cuisine, said in a statement. “The funds paid a portion of our rent that was past due with the remaining portion used to purchase needed supplies, including PPE, in order to safely open.”

The MEDC also launched a Support Local campaign today, stressing the importance of supporting local businesses that depend on the holiday shopping season. 

“Now more than ever, small businesses in Pure Michigan need your support,” Whitmer said in a statement. “By staying local, you can help Michigan workers, businesses, and communities thrive this season while enjoying the holidays and finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list.”

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