The Right Place to distribute $1M in small business relief funds

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Courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

The Right Place and various area partners will be distributing a $1 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to help small businesses.

The regional economic development agency The Right Place, in collaboration with the MEDC and regional partners, said Friday that it is receiving a $1 million grant from the MEDC to support small businesses that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In this unprecedented time of economic and business stress, we want to do everything we can for West Michigan businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place. “We are collaborating with our local and regional partners in this effort to quickly and efficiently provide much-needed financial support to small businesses.”

The Michigan Small Business Relief Program of the MEDC is designed to provide grants up to $10,000 to local small businesses with less than 50 employees. Grants may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

The Right Place and its regional partners will use the grant funds to support qualifying small businesses within 11 of the 13 counties of West Michigan’s Prosperity Region 4.

“Qualified small businesses” will be limited to the statutes identified in this grant program and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-9.

Eligible Region 4 counties include Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola. A table of fund award allocations by county can be found here.

Ottawa and Allegan counties are not covered by this grant. Affected businesses in those counties are encouraged to apply for funds Monday, March 30 through Friday, April 6 under a separate grant administered by the economic development organization Lakeshore Advantage.

Each county will have the opportunity to assemble a local county review committee for relief applications. The size of the committees will vary and may be composed of both public and private economic development partners. Collaborative partners may include but are not limited to local economic development organizations, municipalities, counties, Downtown Development Authorities, chambers of commerce, minority associations and chambers, local banks and finance professionals, and community foundations.

Applications from affected businesses will be accepted, reviewed and approved by these local county review committees. As applications are approved, The Right Place will distribute funds directly to the applicant company.

“There are over 76,000 small businesses in these 11 counties and $1 million in funds,” Klohs said. “We anticipate demand will far exceed availability of funding, which will necessitate difficult decisions throughout the grant review process.”

Applications for funding are now open to eligible Region 4 counties. More information and the form to apply is online.

The Right Place anticipates funds to be made available on or before April 12, and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Each county will be accepting, reviewing and approving applications through their local committees. Local committee contacts are as follows:

• Ionia: Travis Alden, aldent@rightplace.org, (231) 233-4349

• Montcalm: Kathy Jo VanderLaan, vanderLaank@rightplace.org, (616) 498-0374

• Newaygo: Julie Burrell, burrellj@rightplace.org, (231) 335-1985

• Lake: Jodi Nichols, nicholsj@rightplace.org, (231) 742-3328

• Oceana: Jodi Nichols, nicholsj@rightplace.org, (231) 742-3328

• Kent: Brent Case, covidrelief@rightplace.org, (616) 301-6246

• Barry: Jennifer Heinzman, Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance, jennifer@mibarry.com, (269) 945-2454

• Mason: Brandy Miller, Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, brandyh@ludington.org, (231) 845-0324

• Mecosta: Jim Sandy, Mecosta County Development Corporation, jsandy@mecostacounty.org, (231) 250-9226

• Muskegon: Morgan Carroll, Muskegon Area First, mcarroll@muskegon.org, (231) 286-9497

• Osceola: Dan Massy, Osceola County Community & Economic Development Department, dmassy@osceolacountymi.com, (231) 832-7397

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