MI Small Business Restart Program Now Open for Applications

If your business continues to suffer from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Berrien County’s lead economic development agency strongly encourages you to make application for federal dollars now being offered in the Michigan Small Business Restart Program. Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland says, “These funds will provide much needed liquidity to Berrien County businesses who have suffered during the shutdown,” and adds, “Businesses of every size and industry have been negatively impacted and I encourage every eligible business in Berrien County to apply for funding.”

Across the entire state, Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits working to recover from the ongoing impact of COVID-19 can now apply for grants of up to $20,000 through the Michigan Small Business Restart Program. The program will provide $100 million in economic assistance to Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits and in turn, help support workers and their families facing economic uncertainty during the outbreak. Information on how to apply, as well as eligibility criteria and program guidelines are available at the link below:


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says, “The Michigan Small Business Restart Program puts federal funding to work for small businesses in Michigan hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19, helping to ensure they can keep their doors open and put critical protections in place for their workers and their customers.” She adds, “Families across the state depend on small businesses for their livelihood, and this program will build on additional COVID-19 business relief efforts offered by the MEDC to create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery.”

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Southwest Michigan First Senior Partner and CEO Ron Kitchens, who will assist applicants along with Cornerstone Alliance in our region, says, “I am humbled by the commitment of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to small businesses, this $100 million along with the $20 million previously allocated will change the future of the families who operate our main street, community-centric businesses across Michigan,” and adds, “Thank you to Speaker Chatfield, Majority Leader Shirkey and Governor Whitmer for your bipartisan leadership and for understating that the greatest force for change is a job.”

Approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund last week on July 7th, the Michigan Small Business Restart Program allocates $100 million of federal CARES Act funding to provide support to Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits that are reopening and have experienced a loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The funding will be distributed across 15 local or nonprofit economic development organizations (EDOs) covering all 83 counties in the state for grants up to $20,000 to support certain small businesses and nonprofits that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Participating EDOs, including Southwest Michigan First in our region, are as follows:





Invest UP $4,545,455 Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, Gogebic, Baraga, Iron, Marquette, Dickinson, Menominee, Alger, Delta, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, Chippewa
Networks Northwest $4,545,455 Emmet, Grand Traverse, Charlevoix, Antrim, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Wexford, Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau
Otsego County Economic Alliance $3,500,000 Otsego, Crawford, Roscommon, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda
Target Alpena $3,500,000 Iosco, Alcona, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan
The Right Place $9,545,455 Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola
Lakeshore Advantage $3,500,000 Allegan, Ottawa
Middle Michigan Development Corporation $3,500,000 Isabella, Gratiot, Clare, Gladwin, Arenac, Midland
Saginaw Future $3,545,455 Bay, Saginaw
Flint & Genesee Chamber $8,045,455 Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Tuscola, Sanilac, Huron
Lansing Economic Area Partnership $5,545,455 Clinton, Eaton, Ingham
Southwest Michigan First $7,545,455 Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Berrien, Calhoun, Van Buren, Cass, Branch
Ann Arbor Spark $8,545,455 Livingston, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Monroe
Oakland County $11,045,455


Macomb County $7,545,455 Macomb
Detroit Economic Growth Corporation $15,545,450 Wayne

The Michigan Small Business Restart Program application period will be live through Wednesday, August 5th and all applications received during that three week period will receive consideration; grants will be awarded after the close of the application period based on criteria that are defined by the EDOs. Funds can be used as working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses.

Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage in Holland says, “As an economic development organization, we have been on the front lines of small business and primary employer support since March. Lakeshore Advantage is honored to be stewards of these Restart grant funds locally in Allegan and Ottawa counties,” and adds, “We are grateful to the MEDC and Michigan Strategic Fund for recognizing this valuable opportunity to directly assist as partners in small business retention and growth.”

The MEDC anticipates that more than 5,000 businesses across the state will benefit from this program.

To qualify for grant support, businesses must meet the following criteria, based on statutory requirements for the program:

  • Is a business or nonprofit with fewer than 50 employees that can demonstrate it is affected by the COVID-19 emergency
  • Needs working capital to support eligible expenses
  • Demonstrates an income loss as a result of the COVID-19 emergency

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.

MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton says, “We have taken this program from words on a page to full deployment in two weeks to ensure we can start getting these funds into the hands of small businesses and nonprofits across Michigan and continue to set a path to economic recovery here in our state,” and adds, “The Michigan Small Business Restart program will provide a significant opportunity to address immediate needs of small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by COVID-19. Combined with other Michigan Strategic Fund programs and services, as well as local and federal economic development support, we can help ensure small businesses throughout the state to recover from the short and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Birgit Klohs, President & CEO, The Right Place, Inc. in Grand Rapids, says, “Many West Michigan small businesses continue to be negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” and adds, “This grant funding from the Michigan Small Business Restart Program will provide additional support to these businesses and assist with the region’s economic recovery.”

Per statutory requirements, a monthly report will be provided to the legislature that includes a listing of grants awarded in the previous month and the name of the recipient of each grant provided under the program. All reporting forms will also be available on the application website.

Paola Mendivil, co-owner of El Granjero Mexican Grill in Grand Rapids and advocate for Latina women, said she was pleased to learn that at least 30-percent of the Michigan Small Business Restart funds will be awarded to women-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned eligible businesses.

Mendivil says, “Small businesses all around Michigan have been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus, but women- and minority-owned businesses are often even more vulnerable in difficult times.” Mendivil, who is also an active member of Local First, the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, and the Latina Network of West Michigan, adds, “This funding could prove to be a lifeline for so many of these small businesses in the state. It’s important we continue to raise awareness and encourage these businesses to apply for these Restart Grants.”

The Michigan Small Business Restart Program is modeled after the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, approved on March 19th by the Michigan Strategic Fund to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Michigan Small Business Relief Program consisted of a total of $20 million aimed at supporting businesses in need of immediate relief. The program included $10 million that was distributed to 15 local EDOs to provide grants up to $10,000 to certain small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, the program authorized $10 million for small business loans of not less than $50,000 and not more than $100,000 to eligible borrowers impacted by the pandemic that were not able to seek alternative, suitable financing.

Under the Michigan Small Business Relief grant program, local EDOs selected more than 2,700 businesses across the state covering all 83 counties that received grant support expected to retain approximately 11,000 jobs. To date, more than 130 small business loans totaling more than $8 million have been approved through MSF delegated approval.

The $15 million Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program application process is also now live and can be found at http://michiganbusiness.org/agsafety. That program will support the implementation of COVID-19 monitoring and mitigation strategies to protect agricultural employees and the state’s overall food production industry, including PPE, testing, employee training and housing needs to ensure appropriate social distancing.

With the approval of these two programs by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board, the MEDC has launched 17 COVID-19 relief and recovery programs supporting more than 3,400 businesses in the state and helping to retain more than 14,700 jobs across all 83 counties.

The MEDC has also developed a FAQ for Michigan businesses and communities at this link:


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.