Michigan Small Business Survival Grants won’t hinge on compliance with pandemic orders

    Susan J. Demas

    With $55 million in state dollars on the table for small businesses, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) is relying on businesses to be honest about their compliance with Michigan pandemic rules and orders. 

    The Michigan Small Business Survival Grants are designed to assist small businesses in the state that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and subsequent orders meant to curb the virus. The program was part of the bipartisan pandemic aid package that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed in late December.

    The state began accepting applications Tuesday morning. Regional economic organizations will assist in determining who receives the grants and how much. 

    Businesses that have been closed can get up to $20,000, while businesses that are operating in a limited capacity can qualify for up to $15,000. 

    Dozens of businesses have been hit with cease and desist orders by local and state authorities for operating in violation of pandemic orders. 

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    But don’t expect compliance with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) orders to necessarily be a determining factor in doling out cash, said Kathleen Achtenberg, a spokeswoman for MEDC. 

    “The program guidelines were based off of the legislative requirements of the program, and the application does include a question on whether the business is in compliance with all orders but does not require self-certification,” Achtenberg wrote in an email Tuesday morning. 

    “However, the economic development organizations serving as the grant administrators are able to take additional factors based on regional priorities into consideration when awarding grants. Since that question is on the application, the EDOs [economic development organizations] will have that information available should that be something they do want to account for.”

    Here’s how the grant eligibility is spelled out on the MEDC website. Businesses must have between one and 100 employees; must be impacted by the orders (such as bars and restaurants); need working capital to address payroll, rent, mortgage and other monthly expenses; and demonstrate a loss in income due to the COVID-19 restrictions. 

    Grant applications will be accepted through midnight Friday. 

    Todd A. Heywood
    Todd Heywood is an award-winning journalist with over 30 years of experience. He's worked in print, online, radio and television. His reporting has been cited by the U.S. House of Representatives as well as in the United Nations reports on HIV. He's an avid vintage Star Wars collector and lives in Lansing with his three dogs.