Businesses Directly Impacted by December 2020 State Mask Mandate Receive Grant Funds
LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 17, 2021) — Following a statewide announcement from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) announced 194 small businesses and nonprofits from across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties received $15,000 survival grants to alleviate impacts from the state Health Department December 2020 Gatherings and Mask Order. From the 1,045 eligible applications in the Lansing region, our region received only enough funding to support approximately 18% of the applicants.
"It can't be understated; small businesses continue to face difficult circumstances due to the COVID-19 crisis, and every opportunity for relief is vital. LEAP continues to be grateful for emergency small business relief funds funneled to our region, most recently to specifically address the impact of the December 2020 Gatherings and Mask Order," said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. "LEAP recognizes the trust placed in us to take on this repeatedly heartbreaking but rewarding task. While we are thankful to be helping an additional 194 small businesses with funding amounts that will truly make a difference, we know it barely scratches the surface of our community's overall needs. We remain optimistic that additional state and federal funds will arrive in the Lansing region in the coming months."
LEAP received $3 million from the MEDC to provide working capital grants to eligible small businesses and nonprofits across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. Local prioritization focused on the equitable geographic allocation of awards across the region based on the geographic distribution of businesses and population across the three-county region, awarding 11% of grants in Clinton county, 24% in Eaton county and 65% in Ingham county.
LEAP chose to provide a single loan amount of $15,000 instead of smaller grant amounts to ensure a real impact on those businesses selected and their employees. "It's hard to put into words what this grant means to my employees and me. It's been a tough year and this grant truly just saved the restaurant and all the employees! We are grateful to LEAP for understanding how painful the end of last year was specifically, and to the state of Michigan for recognizing business still need help if we are to stay in business and pay our employees," said Phuong-Anh Nguyen, Nola Bistro in Eaton County.
Additionally, a focus on grants to small businesses and nonprofits such as bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, gyms and other entertainment and recreational facilities disproportionately impacted by the Dec. 2020 Gatherings and Mask Order was incorporated regionally based on the statewide eligibility requirements.
"Like all small businesses during this time of significant restrictions and complete shutdowns, we've worked relentlessly to find ways to continue to serve our members and community. This grant funding has finally given us a chance to come up for air and breathe. Our team will use this renewed hope to push ourselves even harder to make health and wellness opportunities accessible to our community during a time when they need it most," Emmie Musser, 3 legged dog yoga + strength studio in Clinton County.
To minimize bias and equitably distribute funds across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties based on the geographic distribution of businesses across the region, LEAP designed a multistage and multientity review process, including conflict of interest removal. The review process had 30 individual reviewers, including Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) partner organizations, the Capital Region Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC), Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW!), Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) and stakeholders from diverse organizations and larger businesses in the community.
Applications were reviewed and scored in five categories: impact, locale, uniqueness, revenue and funding. Emphasis on these categories sought to reach those with the greatest need and preserve vital gathering places that contribute to the rich history of Lansing region communities, such as Gregory's and Mr. Taco in the city of Lansing, to name a few. All information about the review process and local priorities and criteria was available to potential applicants before and during the statewide application window from LEAP's website.
“I am very grateful and humbled to be chosen as a recipient of the Small Business Survival Grant. It has been a struggle for Alicia’s to stay open, like many small businesses still suffering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alicia Gonzales, owner of Alicia’s Mexican Restaurant in the city of Lansing. “Keeping small businesses operating is critical to a healthy economy. I want to thank LEAP and the State of Michigan for recognizing the financial stresses placed on small businesses by this crisis. This grant will support the survival of my business and also assist me in continuing to keep my employees working and continue to serve the Lansing community.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, LEAP has distributed over $9.75 million in grants and loans to nearly 700 businesses with funds allocated by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state and federal legislatures and municipalities.
"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 MEDC. "We are thankful for the efforts of LEAP, 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."
A full statewide list of grant recipients has been made available by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). A regional list of selected grantees, geographic and demographic detail of applications received and awarded in the Lansing region and all program documentation, including the application review process and scoring criteria, is available on LEAP's website.
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all--working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing, Michigan, region.