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Paul Krutko | Ann Arbor SPARK Update

Michigan Business Beat
August 7, 2020 8:00 AM

Ann Arbor SPARKChris Holman talks with President & CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, Paul Krutko. Paul shares about the Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund, Michigan Small Business Relief Program, Michigan Small Business Restart Program, and the Launched the Business Recovery Center. 

For more than 10 years, Ann Arbor SPARK has served the greater Ann Arbor region as a catalyst for economic development. They accomplish this by building awareness of the region as a destination for business and manufacturing development and growth. Their team of knowledge experts attracts, develops, strengthens, and invests in driving industries to help communities prosper.- https://annarborusa.org/

Watch full interview now! 

Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund
Ann Arbor SPARK led the creation of the Washtenaw Small Business Emergency Relief Fund to address the financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis. The fund, valued at $1.29M, was made possible due to a $1 million gift from The Song Foundation and additional contributions from Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Bank of Ann Arbor, New Economy Initiative, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr Foundation, Chemical Bank, Pittsfield Charter Township, and others. The program began accepting applications on March 25 — less than two weeks after Governor Whitmer’s initial executive order. Funding requests exceeded $4.7M.

Michigan Small Business Relief Program
Simultaneously, while administering the Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund, SPARK also administered the Michigan Small Business Relief Program established by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The demand for funding through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program was overwhelming and once again, the need far exceeded the funds available. More than 1,500 companies in Washtenaw and Livingston counties applied for the limited amount of funding available. Nearly $15 million in need was requested, but SPARK only had $327,000 in grant funding to disperse in Washtenaw County and only $168,000 in Livingston County.

Michigan Small Business Restart Program
The MEDC launched a new grant opportunity on July 15 with applications closing on August 5. The state allocated $2.94 million for Washtenaw County business and $1.51 million for Livingston County businesses. While we do not have the final number of applications, we are anticipating more than 1,500 for Washtenaw County and 700 for Livingston County. Additionally, at least 30 percent of the funds awarded under the program must be provided to women-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned eligible businesses.

Launched the Business Recovery Center
Ann Arbor SPARK launched a COVID-19 Business Recovery Center (BRC) with links to financial resources, on-demand webinars, upcoming virtual events, and more. The BRC was built on a platform developed by local startup InfoReady which the founder and CEO offered to SPARK at no cost. To date, we’ve had more than 17,000 visits to the hub.

In the early days of the pandemic, the value of the hub was quickly recognized as rapidly changing information needed to be shared with our community in a timely and reliable manner. The hub provided an organized, easy-to-use reference for people looking for support, whether that was financially or turning to our growing reference library of webinars.

Eliminated Client Threshold for Virtual Events
One method Ann Arbor SPARK felt that it could give back to the broader business community was to open its workshops which had previously been available only to SPARK clients.

These events included SPARK.ed. Prior to the pandemic, SPARK organized multiple workshops a month for its early-stage startup clients designed to help entrepreneurs develop leadership and business management skills. By opening up SPARK.ed to a broader audience, we were able to help entrepreneurs beyond just the Ann Arbor region.

Another SPARK program, Entrepreneurial Boot Camp, transitioned entirely to an online format — now known as SPARK.tech — and became available to a larger audience. While the mentoring component of the program remained a benefit to SPARK-clients, we made the Lean Startup Methodology webinars which define the program open to anyone interested.

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Michigan Business Beat, hosted by Chris Holman, discusses economic development, new or unusual entrepreneurial initiatives, and successful business practices from different regions and industries around Michigan with a wide range of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

8:00 AM every Monday through Friday
Replay: 8:00 AM, 2:00 PM, 8:00 PM, 2:00 AM The music for 'Michigan Business Beat' is graciously shared use of Phil Denny's "Traffic Jam" off his 2012 CD 'Crossover'

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