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More than 1,400 Southwest Michigan small businesses receive thousands in grant funding

The results are in for the recipients of the Michigan Small Business Restart Program.

News Channel 3 anchor Lora Painter spoke with Ron Kitchens, the senior partner and chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, about grant money helping our region’s economy strengthen and rebound from the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Kitchens said checks went out this month to more than 1,400 small businesses in seven counties in our region. Businesses got about $5,000 each.

The federal grant required that a minimum of 30% of the money go to businesses owned by people of color, veterans and women. The application process was from July to August of 2020.

“We think this is outstanding,” Kitchens said. “Never in the 30 years I’ve been in this business have we been able to give away money like this. Nor have we been able to focus on minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned companies.”

Recipients, such a Marie Marsh, said the grant money helped her reopen her business Crown Trophy with three-quarters of its employees working.

The Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $100 million program called the Michigan Small Business Restart Program to support Michigan’s small businesses that are reopening and have experienced a loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The fund authorized distribution of the money across 15 local or nonprofit economic development organizations covering all 83 counties in the state. Locally, Southwest Michigan First was allocated $7.5 million to distribute to qualifying small businesses with 50 or fewer employees in the seven-county region it serves.

Kitchens also said college students play a role in supporting the local economy. He said data shows Western Michigan University students spend more than $12,000 in our community, excluding tuition, on-campus housing or what they spend at the college.

“There is nothing we can do, more important we can do, than love and ask those college students to stay,” Kitchens said.


Posted By: WWMT West Michigan on September 27, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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