MEDC offers financial assistance to small business in Michigan Main Street communities

LANSING – The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has announced a new pilot program aimed at supporting small businesses looking to expand or establish themselves in a Michigan Main Street community. The cities of Niles and Saline have been selected as the first two communities to pilot the program.

Match on Main will provide grants of between $5,000 and $25,000 to Select or Master level Michigan Main Street communities in conjunction with eligible businesses seeking support. Projects can include interior building renovations, furniture and fixtures, permanent equipment, point of sale systems, marketing expenses, and inventory. Participating businesses must also have worked with the Michigan Small Business Development Center on a business plan.

“Small businesses are the cornerstones of our communities,” said Katharine Czarnecki, MEDC senior vice president of community development. “With the support of the MEDC’s Match on Main program, we can positively impact many small businesses, further boosting the downtowns and commercial districts in these communities to make them a place where people want to live, work and play.”

As one of the two communities chosen to participate in the pilot program, the city of Niles (its downtown pictured above) has identified Gabrizio Italian Café and Bakery, a new bakery located on 104 N. Third St. in downtown Niles, as the business it will support through the program.

“Match on Main is a great partnership program between Michigan Main Street and the Michigan Small Business Development Center and will allow new and expanding businesses to get the support they need,” said Niles Main Street Executive Director Lisa Croteau. “Together we’ll build strong Main Streets and downtown Niles is thrilled to be a Match on Main pilot community.”

Added Gabrizio owner Desyree Alberganti: “We will be able to invest Match on Main funds to grow our business in downtown Niles. We otherwise would not have been able to.”

The city of Saline has chosen the Cheese Shop of Saline at 98 N. Ann Arbor St. in downtown Saline as its participating Match on Main business.

“When Match on Main was introduced, the timing couldn’t have been better,” said Saline Main Street Director Holli Andrews. “Saline Main Street will continue to celebrate the Cheese Shop of Saline, a local favorite spot in the heart of our Main Street district – acknowledging the broad support it took to get John and Ruth on a path forward.”

Added Cheese Shop co-owner John Loomis: “Through the assistance of Saline Main Street, CEED Lending and SBDC, we were able to create a plan for our vision. And now with the funding from the Match on Main program, we’re excited about growing our business and being here in Downtown Saline for a long time to come.”

The full Match on Main program is expected to launch in early summer 2019 and will be available to all 23 communities participating in the Michigan Main Street Program at the Select or Master levels.

The Michigan Main Street Center supports local communities across Michigan as they implement the Main Street Four-Point Approach, a community-driven, comprehensive strategy encouraging economic development through historic preservation in ways appropriate for the modern marketplace. The program aims to create communities distinguished by a “sense of place.” The rationale is based on a range of studies that show investing in creating a sense of place is an integral part of developing vibrant city centers and downtowns, thereby making the state economically stronger and culturally diverse.

As part of the Select Level of Michigan Main Street, communities receive five years of intensive technical assistance from MEDC with a focus on revitalization strategies designed to attract new residents, business investments, economic growth and job creation to their central business districts.

After communities have completed the Select Level of the program, they can participate in the Master Level, a two-year commitment that includes additional training and networking and mentoring opportunities.

The 23 communities currently participating in the Michigan Main Street at the select and master levels are Blissfield, Boyne City, Charlevoix, Charlotte, Downtown Lansing, Evart, Grand Haven, Grayling, Hart, Howell, Lapeer, the Mexicantown Hubbard Communities in Detroit, Milan, Niles, the Old Town area of Lansing, Otsego, Owosso, Portland, Saline, Sault Ste. Marie, Three Rivers, Wayland, and Wayne.

Over the past year, Michigan Main Street communities generated more than $28 million in private investment, 116 new businesses and 92 façade improvements. Since its inception in 2003, the Michigan Main Street has been a catalyst for job growth, private investment and community engagement. From 2003 through 2018, 1,299 new businesses have been launched, with a total public investment of nearly $90 million and total private investment of $286 million. In addition, more than 56,566 volunteer hours were recorded in the task of revitalizing downtowns across the state.

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org.

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