Restaurants in Benton Harbor and Fennville are among the more than 100 small business enterprises around the state who are employing the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Crowdfunding Program this month in recovery efforts from the coronavirus pandemic.
Houndstooth Restaurant in downtown Benton Harbor and Root for Fennville both have $5,000 campaign goals in the effort alongside businesses from one end of the state to the other.
All in all, more than 100 small businesses around the state will utilize the MI Local Biz crowdfunding program throughout the month of June, according to word today from the MEDC. Officials at the MEDC will provide a total of $500,000 in matching grants to help the businesses as they work to recover from the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton says, “Michigan’s small businesses and traditional downtowns are a vital part of the state’s economy, and this program offers innovative access to capital for those businesses currently experiencing a loss in revenue directly related to the COVID-19 crisis,” and adds, “Helping our local businesses to successfully reopen lays a path for economic recovery in communities across the state, while offering patrons an opportunity to support businesses in a time of need.”
Houndstooth is a New American restaurant that opened in September of 2019 in the Arts District of Benton Harbor. Owner Cheyenne Galbraith says, “Six months later we made the difficult decision to close temporarily due to COVID 19. Though we tried to stay open for carryout, it was not sustainable for our business and we laid off our employees and closed.”
Regarding the crowdfunding campaign, she says, “We are asking for help now, as the next few months will present many uncertainties and this money will help us stay ‘above water’. We would like to slowly bring back our amazing staff, though we are only able to function at half-capacity.” She adds, “We would like to be able to continue to be able to use the local farmers and purveyors that we have spent years building relationships with. By having these funds we will be able to support not only our staff, but local businesses and agriculture, which gives our food the quality we strive for.”
Galbraith, and her brother James operate the restaurant, and James says, “Our restaurant, though still very new, provided consistent employment and visibility to an area of Benton Harbor that invites all, and that is Houndstooth. We will continue to reach out to our community and evolve with what our community’s needs are. With this money, we can create a safe home for our employees and safely serve our community.” You can help at the link below.
Launched in May, the MI Local Biz program builds on the MEDC’s successful Public Spaces Community Places program, in which residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. MI Local Biz allows for a small business to utilize donation-based crowdfunding through Michigan-based Patronicity’s existing platform and to receive a 1:1 matching grant from MEDC of up to $5,000. Funds must be used by the businesses for working capital needs in order to maintain ongoing operations during and through the COVID-19 crisis.
Cori Williams, owner of Beer City Barre in Grand Rapids, says, “I was absolutely blown away to be chosen for the MI Local Biz grant matching program. I know there are so many deserving businesses out there, and I do not take this amazing opportunity for granted. The support of the community rallying around small businesses like mine is inspiring, and it gives many people like myself a glimpse of hope as we make our way out of this unprecedented time.” She adds, “The money we receive through this program will be used to cover our basic expenses that have been hard to meet with our loss in sales over the last few months – rent, software, utilities, instructor pay, just to name a few.”
Currently, there are businesses in 42 counties participating in the MI Local Biz program – in communities ranging from Houghton in the Upper Peninsula, to Benton Harbor in Southwest Michigan, to Spring Lake in West Michigan, to the Lake Michigan port city of Manistee, to Port Huron at the easternmost point of the state. Campaigns are continuing to go live and will be added to the page on a regular basis.
Examples of the types of businesses that are participating include restaurants/bars/coffee shops, cafes, salons/day spas, yoga studios, historic theaters, retail shops, art galleries, recreation businesses, and many other small businesses retailing products or providing services in a face-to-face physical location within the state of Michigan.
Individuals interested in learning more and supporting businesses in their communities can visit online at this link: https://www.patronicity.com/milocalbiz
The page includes a list of all the businesses running campaigns through the program, and there is also a map showing the locations of them throughout the state.
Amy Polk, owner of Applecore General Store in the Les Cheneaux Islands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, says, “Partnering with the MEDC on this incredible opportunity to grow my business during these uncertain times is such an honor, and I am so grateful and amazed to have been selected for the MI Local Biz program. With any funds raised, I will be able to directly reinvest in other Michigan makers who provide products for the store by replenishing the store’s inventory in preparation for shopping to resume across the state.” She notes, “Funds raised will also help cover the costs of establishing new health and safety measures at the store, including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer for customers who need them. I am so appreciative as well, for the MEDC’s investment in Upper Peninsula businesses like ours.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and their initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. You can also join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.