MI Small Business Relief Program Assists 7 More Businesses in SWM

Seven small business enterprises across Michigan’s Great Southwest successfully attained low-interest loans in the most recent round offered by the Michigan Small Business Relief Program through the MEDC, including four in Berrien County, two in Van Buren and one in Kalamazoo, all under the auspices of Southwest Michigan First. They were part of the $4.7 million in additional loans made to 71 businesses through the program.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has announced the awarding of that additional $4.7 million in low-interest loans to small businesses across a total of 15 counties in Michigan. That new support builds on $4.35 million in loans awarded to 74 businesses through the program back in June. To date, a total of 2,879 small businesses around Michigan have been awarded nearly $20 million in relief grants and loans through the program to assist with COVID-19 recovery efforts.

MEDC CEO Mark Burton says, “As we continue to focus on restoring economic prosperity for all Michiganders, these loans provide critical support to small businesses throughout the state that are working to recover from the short and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” and adds, “By collaborating with our local economic development partners, we can deliver vital financial resources to small businesses across Michigan to create a path for economic recovery here in our state.”

The following businesses were successful in this round in our region:

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  • The Citadel Dance & Music Center in Benton Harbor got $50,000.00
  • Beer Church Hospitality Group in New Buffalo got $87,960.00
  • The Renaissance Athletic Club in Benton Harbor got $80,000.00
  • Berrien Metal Products, Inc. in Buchanan got $79,860.00
  • Dome Sports Center in Schoolcraft got $50,000.00
  • Stage Flight, LLC. of South Haven got $50,000.00
  • Lucky Girl Brewing Crossroads, LLC. of Paw Paw got $50,000.00

The Michigan Small Business Relief Program was authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund in March of this year to provide relief for small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Loans through the program are intended to support small businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce and may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business. The full list of businesses receiving support through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program is available at this link:


Dome Sports Center in Schoolcraft, which as noted was awarded a $50,000 loan through Southwest Michigan First says the funds have helped put the company in a much more stable position to take care of its mortgage, payroll obligations, and other expenses, according to Co-Owner and Director Judd Hoff.

Hoff says, “Closing our indoor operations put us in an unprecedented economic situation. With cash flow essentially gone, paying our mortgage, employees and other contractors was at risk. The MEDC loan couldn’t have come at a better time.” He adds, “We were able to bridge the months it took to reorganize our business to meet the demands of our customers in a COVID environment. We successfully responded and our business continues to thrive. The MEDC loan coupled with the PPP loan made this possible.”

This round of loans was referred by six of the 15 local EDO partners selected to administer the Michigan Small Business Relief Program; the loans referred through the other eight EDOs were announced in June. EDO partners have referred eligible loan applicants to MEDC, where they are reviewed by a loan review committee including the Chief Business Development Officer, Senior Vice President of Growth and Development, and Senior Vice President of Business Development Projects. All loans made through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program are also approved through Michigan Strategic Fund delegated authority.

Judy Zehnder Keller, owner of the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus, says, “This year the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus celebrated 50 years in business and just last fall, opened a beautiful new facility. The COVID-related shutdown was a difficult blow and even after reopening we are at a limited capacity.” She adds, “We greatly appreciate the MEDC and the relief programs that have supported our business and employees. By working together, we will get through this and the Cheese Haus looks forward to another 50 years.”

In addition to the $10 million in loan funds, the Michigan Strategic Fund also approved $10 million in Michigan Small Business Relief Program grants which were administered by 15 local and nonprofit economic development organizations (EDOs) around Michigan. The EDOs were selected through a competitive process based on capacity to administer the program and ensure coverage to small businesses in all 83 counties in Michigan. To see the full list of businesses that received MSBRP grants, visit http://www.michiganbusiness.org/msbrp. That list shows $7,500 grants to 26 businesses in Berrien County, $3,000 grants for 13 in Cass County, and grants ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 to 23 businesses in Van Buren County.

These relief programs also served as the model for the Michigan Small Business Restart Grant program, authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund in July. That program, also administered by these 15 local EDO partners, utilized $100 million in federal CARES Act funding to support the needs of Michigan businesses and nonprofits of 50 employees or less directly impacted by COVID-19. The first round of recipients through that program will be announced in the next few weeks.