52 Flint, Genesee small businesses awarded $5,000 grants to help relieve damage caused by COVID-19

52 Flint, Genesee small businesses awarded $5,000 grants to help relieve damage caused by COVID-19

Fifty-two small businesses in Flint and Genesee County were each awarded a $5,000 grant from the Michigan Small Business Relief Program to compensate for damages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), which funds the program, allotted Genesee County $260,000 for the grants. The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce was charged with administering the program locally.

The recipients come from a range of industry sectors, including construction, childcare, food and beverage, retail, professional services, manufacturing, automotive repair and recreation.

The Chamber received nearly 1,500 applications once the program was announced last week, says Chamber CEO Tim Herman.

“We were given a very compressed timeline by the MEDC in which to identify prospective grantees and distribute the funds, and we know that was difficult,”  he says. “We also recognize that this was an extremely difficult time for businesses everywhere, so the goal was to get funds to businesses, fast.”

Flint & Genesee Chamber CEO Tim Herman says the Chamber “recognizes this was an extremely difficult time for businesses everywhere, so the goal was to get funds to businesses, fast.”

The MEDC-funded program is part of a pool of $20 million in grants and loans earmarked to provide economic assistance to Michigan’s small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The applications were reviewed and scored by a county panel of eight people. The highest scoring applicants were compiled and further evaluated, and then recommended to the I-69 Thumb Region’s board of county EDOs. The regional board, comprised of representatives from Genesee, Shiawassee, Lapeer, Tuscola, Sanilac, Huron and St. Clair counties, made the final decisions.

The grants are only the first part of the relief effort. The loan portion is still being processed, says Tyler Rossmaessler, director of economic development at Chamber.

“In the meantime, there are additional resources available from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help small businesses,” Rossmaessler says. “This includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.”

The Paycheck Protection Program exists to prevent small businesses from laying off their employees.  Loans will be forgiven by the SBA if the money is used to keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks and goes to payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue. In addition, small business owners may apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000.

Loan advances will not have to be repaid and will be made available within three days of a successful application.

For questions or more information about resources to assist small businesses, please contact the Flint & Genesee Chamber’s Economic Development Group at trossmaessler@flintandgenesee.org.

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