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Muskegon County loan program latest in COVID-19 business relief

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Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women and the Muskegon County Community Foundation have teamed up for a new fund to help small businesses directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stimulus loans of $1,000 to $10,000 are available for small businesses in Muskegon County that have no more than 25 employees and can demonstrate that they had positive cash flow before the pandemic. Companies must also have been established before September 1 of last year and can show liability insurance coverage.

Loan recipients can repay debt over six to 24 months at an annual interest rate of 4% and can start repaying up to 90 days after receiving the loan.

“This program will provide critical and flexible funds to small businesses impacted by COVID-19,” said Todd Jacobs, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. “The program is designed to keep small businesses afloat and to reopen with confidence.”

GROW and the Community Foundation expect the loan program to help a cross-section of small businesses – from retailers and child care centers to manufacturers and restaurants. The program will consider small employers disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and state executive orders, as well as those in rural, underserved, and moderately low-income areas of Muskegon County, and businesses owned by women and minorities.

The loan program received $350,000 in support from the Brad and Janice Hilleary Family Fund, the Leonard & Catherine Buitendorp Charitable Fund, the SPX Community Development Fund and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County’s BA Westgate Fund. GROW received a $45,000 grant from the foundation to administer the loan program and to fund a loan loss reserve.

Legislative support

The initiative is the latest to provide relief to small businesses in the wake of the pandemic and its economic fallout. In Kent County, a new $25 million grant fund created in partnership with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce launch at 8 a.m. Monday.

Much more help is showing up along the way thanks to a supplementary appropriations bill that state lawmakers approved this week for the remainder of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

The $880.1 million bill allocates $100 million to the Michigan Strategy Fund to offer another round of small business restart grants to small businesses and nonprofits across the state that “have achieved significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency,” according to an analysis of invoice.

The Strategic Fund earlier created a $10 million relief fund that worked through 15 economic development organizations across the state to review and award grants. the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. earlier this month awarded the $4.35 million in relief grants to 74 small businesses in 74 counties.

Under the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, MEDC would work through the same economic development agencies, which would receive a minimum of $3.5 million each. Any unused proceeds by September 30 would revert to the Strategic Fund for distribution to other economic development organizations.

Small businesses and nonprofits receiving a grant of up to $20,000 could use the money for their working capital: payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments and utility expenses. Businesses that previously received money from the state’s small business assistance program cannot apply for additional help from the new program.

The legislation requires that at least 30% of the $100 million go to eligible businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans. The bill defines qualifying businesses or nonprofits “that demonstrate they have been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, that require capital to cover expenses, and that demonstrate loss of revenue to the following the COVID-19 emergency”.