With COVID-19 still raging in the community [and world], small, eligible businesses in Michigan could see a glimmer of hope after a special Michigan Strategic Fund [MSF] Board meeting on November 30 approved a Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative.

Lansing-based MSF was created by P.A. 270 of 1984 and had a broad authority to promote economic development and create jobs, according to their website

The Initiative will use federal CARES Act funding to provide $10 million in grants to meet the critical needs of Michigan small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus, according to a media release. Applications for businesses to apply will open on December 15; up to $15,000 is also eligible per applicant on a first-come, first-serve basis.

During a media call, several MSF officials discussed the impact this Initiative will have on local businesses during the pandemic, which has placed many businesses in financial straits before the three-week statewide pause, slated to end December 8.

Lansing-based Michigan Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Mark Burton said that as the pandemic is rising to “extremely worrying” levels during the winter season, it is essential to work with the tools available across the state to support small businesses and “persevere.”

“Last week we launched a support local campaign statewide to encourage Michiganders to shop, eat, travel locally this winter to provide our small businesses support they need to combat the adverse effects of COVID-19,” Burton said, adding that the Initiative is mainly targeted at restaurants, bars, movie theaters, meeting facilities, indoor recreation facilities, and other similar venues. “We continue to prioritize getting critically needed relief into the hands of those small businesses that need it most.”

Burton added that having already delivered 19 programs to support more than 18,500 businesses and help retain nearly 150,000 jobs across the state, this program continues on that track record.

“We’re working to get this relief out as quickly as possible,” Burton said.

Ten regions are grouped by counties with Region 10 including Oakland, Macomb, Wayne with an allotment of $3.55 million.

According to a press release, grant funds will assist eligible small businesses directly impacted by COVID-19 to meet urgent working capital needs, including payroll expenses, rent or mortgage payments, and utility expenses.

Burton said these federal CARES Act dollars were distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Michigan Community Development Block Grant program.

From an equity component, Small Business Program Manager Suzanne Perreault said during the call that their team is working with their communications and marketing team to “spread the word” about this.

“To make sure businesses are aware of this opportunity, something we are very conscious of,” Perreault said of ensuring Black and women-owned businesses have a fair shot at the funding.

Burton agreed.

“I think as we have learned throughout this process minority-owned, women-owned [businesses] have been disproportionately impacted,” he said, adding that the state legislature required a minimum of 30 percent of funds going to these businesses to restart grants in the summer. “We continue recognizing the importance of the issue of the disproportionate impact.”

The timeframe in which the eligible expenses can be counted is now from November 18 to April 30.

For the full list of requirements and more information, review the program guide .