State, women’s group establish $1.5M small biz grant, loan fund

LANSING—The Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced a partnership with Michigan Women Forward to create the $1.5 million Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will provide grants of $1,000 to $5,000 and loans of $5,000 to $10,000 to small businesses who are in need and have been adversely affected by pandemic closures, with at least 150 small businesses expected to benefit. To apply, visit miwf.org/mwf-entrepreneur-resilience-fund.

“As Michigan begins to focus on economic recovery efforts across the state, it is critical that we make sure support and relief are accessible for all entrepreneurs and small businesses in need,” said LeTasha Peebles, grant manager for the MEDC. “We’re grateful for the partnership of Michigan Women Forward in supporting this fund, which will play a key role in ensuring every member of our state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has the tools and support they need to recover from this crisis.”

Added Michigan Women’s Fund president and CEO Carolyn Cassin: “At Michigan Woman Forward, we are dedicating ourselves to doing everything we possibly can to help Michigan’s small businesses re-open and recover from this crisis. Funding is just the beginning. We will also pair our entrepreneurs with experts to help answer questions and guide their decision making at this critical time.”

Funds awarded through the program can be used to support small businesses in managing expenses through the recovery phase, including rent, payroll, and inventory, due to the significant economic impacts of COVID-19. The fund can also advance business growth by providing working capital to assist with increased product or service demand in response to COVID-19, to allow a company to revamp their business virtually through a strengthened online presence, or to start up a company to meet a new demand as a result of COVID-19.

The $1.5 million fund includes support of $500,000 from MEDC and $500,000 from Michigan Women Forward’s SBA microlending funds, along with partners including Consumers Energy Foundation, the New Economy Initiative, General Motors Corporation, Fifth Third Bank and Comerica Bank. Michigan Women Forward is also working with other potential funding partners to provide additional opportunities for grants and loans through the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund.

Applicants will be evaluated on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted. Eligible candidates will be prioritized based on demonstrated need, including, but not limited to:

  • Being located in a disadvantaged area within a U.S. Small Business Administration designated HubZone or Opportunity Zone
  • Demonstrating status as a low- to moderate-income borrower, and
  • Qualifying as a diverse business that can demonstrate ownership by underrepresented groups including, but not limited to, veterans, minorities and low-income men and women.

Other resources for businesses across Michigan to assist them in recovering from economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus can be found online at michiganbusiness.org/covid19. Included are resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pure Michigan Business Connect procurement platform, support services offered through the Small Business Development Center and more. The MEDC has also developed a FAQ for Michigan businesses and communities at michiganbusiness.org/covid19-faq.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

For those who have questions about the state’s actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at (888) 535-6136 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time daily.

Founded in 1986, Michigan Women Forward focuses on accelerating women’s entrepreneurship, developing the next generation of young women leaders, sharing women’s history, and leading the state’s women’s agenda. It operates the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame Center in Lansing. More at www.miwf.org

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