Today The Right Place, Inc., in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and regional partners, announced that 426 small businesses have been awarded $4.98M in grant funding. These grants were awarded to eligible West Michigan small businesses who have been negatively impacted by the recent Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic orders.

Funding for the grants was provided by MEDC via the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program, the third of its kind for The Right Place since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. These grants are designed to provide eligible small businesses with working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business. In order to qualify, businesses and nonprofits must have had less than 100 employees and been able to demonstrate a significant financial hardship due to the recent COVID-19 emergency “gatherings and face mask orders.”.

Nearly 85% of the funds awarded went to food service establishments, retail, and exercise facilities, with 99.5% of them being either fully or partially closed due to the pandemic. Awardees of the Small Business Survival Grant funds reported they will be able to retain or rehire 7,558 employees in the 11-county distribution region as a result of this program.

“With this latest round of grant funding, The Right Place and our regional partners have been able to provide financial relief to another 426 small businesses in the region, most of whom have seen their operations significantly or totally halted due to COVID-19,” said Tim Mroz, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, The Right Place, Inc. “These funds are critical to struggling business owners and are one of the ways we can support a healthy economic recovery for our community.”

Demand for funding far exceeded available funds, with 3,137 applicants requesting over $47M in support throughout the region.

“The Michigan Small Business Survival Program is providing significant support to small businesses helping to get them through this critical time and on the path to economic recovery,” said Josh Hundt, Chief Business Development Officer and Executive Vice President at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We are thankful for the efforts of The Right Place, who worked swiftly and diligently to deliver these vital financial resources within their region and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses in Michigan.”

The Right Place and its regional partners were responsible for distributing funds to support qualifying small businesses within 11 of the 13 counties of West Michigan's Prosperity Region #4: Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, and Osceola Counties. Grant funds for Ottawa and Allegan Counties were administered separately by Lakeshore Advantage.

Each county assembled a local county review committee for grant applications. The size of the committees varied and were composed of both public and private economic development partners. Collaborative partners included local economic development organizations, municipalities, counties, Downtown Development Authorities, chambers of commerce, minority associations and chambers, local banks and finance professionals, community foundations, and others.

Applications from affected businesses were accepted, reviewed, and approved based on scoring criteria determined by these local county review committees. A list of scoring criteria can be found here. Funds are being distributed by The Right Place directly to the applicant companies. More information can be found on The Right Place’s website at this link.

Grant Recipient Testimonies:

Scott McNeal

“The small business grant will keep our Gus Macker Basketball business operating and allow us to make it to the outdoor recreation season,” said Scott McNeal, Founder of Macker Basketball, “We have been in a survival mode with all of our Summer basketball tournaments being cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. The overall assistance from The Right Place has helped us find the right grants and state funds to apply for in our situation. Gus Macker works with local charity organizations to host these 3on3 festivals. The Coronavirus shutdown mass gatherings and we needed to get creative in our business strategy. Thanks to The Right Place for always thinking of us. With your help, we will be back!”

“I am extremely grateful for the Small Business Survival Grant,” said Jeremy Parker, Owner of Anytime Fitness in Fremont, “Obviously, it has been a hard year for many small businesses. Because of grants like the SBSG, it helps relieve some of the pressure and hardships we as small businesses have faced and continue to face. People who have a small business put everything they have into their business. It’s a passion and a community service. Thank you again to the SBSG program for having “our” backs.”

Jennifer Bosch

“The key to surviving the COVID-19 crisis is to continually pivot and look for new ways of doing business. We have focused on heated, outdoor service because safety protocols and capacity limitations would not allow for sales high enough to cover even a fraction of raw material and labor costs,” said Jennifer Bosch, Owner of Smyrna Tavern & Table in Belding, “Fortunately, our “snow village” has been extremely popular, justifying an increase in staff and operating hours. Through the grant funds, we can cover payroll while sales revenue steadily increases. We restocked food and alcohol supplies to offer a more robust menu, instead of buying bare minimums or running out and losing potential sales. These important funds have also helped cover our mortgage and utilities, which hopefully means our recovery can focus less on lagging debt and more on rebuilding. Our goal is to be the small restaurant that defies the pandemic trends and comes out wiser and more resilient.”