CATEGORY: Economic Development
WINNERS: Guillermo Cisneros and Jamiel Robinson for The Right Place, Mike Ramirez and Holly Johnson for Lakeshore Advantage
ORGANIZATIONS: The Right Place and Lakeshore Advantage
The region’s two foremost economic development agencies, The Right Place and Lakeshore Advantage, leveraged community leaders’ input in 2020 to administer state and federal funding to hundreds of small businesses to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout.
The Michigan Strategic Fund, through the federal CARES Act and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), made available a total of $100 million in grant funds to eligible small businesses and nonprofits in Michigan through the Small Business Restart program, and The Right Place and Lakeshore Advantage were in charge of awarding a combined 1,488 grants totaling over $12.3 million across 13 counties in October 2020.
The Business Journal recognizes Guillermo Cisneros, executive director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Jamiel Robinson, founder and CEO of Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses, as co-chairs of the community review committee for Kent County, and Mike Ramirez, partner and president at Orka Automation, and Holly Johnson, president of the Frey Foundation, as co-chairs of the community review committees for Ottawa and Allegan counties, for assisting The Right Place and Lakeshore Advantage in reviewing and selecting recipients to receive the funding. Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties are part of the Business Journal’s core coverage area.
The process and scoring system approved by the review committee allowed for 48% of applicants in Allegan and Ottawa counties to receive funding, with 43% going to women-owned businesses, 8% going to minority-owned businesses, 4% going to veteran-owned businesses and 13% going to businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans. In Kent County, 73% of the funding was awarded to women-, veteran- and minority-owned businesses.
Click here to read about the other winners of the 2020 Newsmakers of the Year.