Michigan authorizes $115M for businesses hurt by pandemic
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s economic development board on Tuesday authorized a $115 million grant program for small businesses, nonprofits, farms and agricultural processors hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
Entities can start applying July 15. The state will disburse the federal funding — a portion of $880 million in rescue aid signed last week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — to 15 local economic development organizations, which will in turn give it to eligible businesses and nonprofits by Sept. 30.
To qualify for $100 million for small businesses and nonprofits, an applicant must have no more than 50 employees and not have received grants through a $20 million relief program created in March. The maximum grant is $20,000 and can be used for payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses and other costs. At least 30% of the funds must go to businesses owned by women, minorities or veterans.
There also is $10 million for agricultural processors and $5 million for farms, which will cover maximum $1,000 grants per employee for COVID-19 costs such as testing, personal protection equipment and housing needs. To qualify, the businesses must have at least 10 employees.
The agriculture-specific funding is first come, first served. The other funding is not.
The programs are the “next step towards ensuring Michigan small businesses and workers receive the support and resources they need to not only survive this outbreak but to continue thriving into the future," said Mark Burton, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
He said he expects demand for assistance to exceed the $115 million available. Restaurants in most of the state, for instance, are at half capacity. Other places of public accommodation like gyms and movie theaters remain closed under a gubernatorial order to curb the spread of the virus.
“There's obviously a fear that we're not going to be reopening as quickly as we thought, given some of the activity we're seeing especially across the country,” Burton told reporters.
Asked how officials will ensure the process is fair, he said the goal is to do as much as possible to make business owners and others aware that applications will be accepted beginning next week. The MEDC also is “trying to make the process as easy as possible so that people can navigate it on their own and relatively efficiently," he said.