MEDC, Michigan Women Forward create $1.5M relief fund

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The state is partnering with an organization that supports women entrepreneurs on a relief fund for small business owners.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) said Tuesday that it partnered with Michigan Women Forward to create the $1.5 million Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund to help entrepreneurs and small businesses impacted by COVID-19, as well as to assist them in COVID-19 response efforts.

“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.”

Carolyn Cassin, president and CEO of MWF, said the fund is part of the foundation’s commitment to helping small businesses “re-open and recover from this crisis.”

“Funding is just the beginning,” she said. “We will also pair our entrepreneurs with experts to help answer questions and guide their decision making at this critical time.”

The Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund will provide recovery grants of $1,000-$5,000 and microloans of $5,000-$10,000 to small businesses who are in need and have been adversely affected by COVID-19 closures with at least 150 businesses statewide expected to benefit.

Funds awarded through the program can be used to support small businesses in managing expenses through the recovery phase, including rent, payroll and inventory.

The fund also offers 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 U.S. Small Business Administration (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 also is 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 an SBA-designated HubZone or Opportunity Zone
  • Demonstrating status as a low- to moderate-income borrower
  • 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

Small businesses interested in receiving support through the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund can apply online.

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