The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is announcing the receipt of a $200,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation, which will be used to assist small businesses in Genesee County that have suffered economic distress because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The contribution will help establish ‘Restart Flint & Genesee,’ a special recovery program from which the Flint & Genesee Chamber will award grants up to $5,000 to business applicants that meet the established criteria.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and have been significantly impacted during this unprecedented time,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “Consumers Energy is committed to helping Michigan’s small business community succeed now, more than ever.”
Kristina Johnston, Flint & Genesee Chamber’s chief operating officer, said the donation is great news for the community and a welcomed addition to the financial resources available to small business owners to restart operations.
“We know from the business impact survey the Chamber conducted in the early days of the outbreak that there would be tremendous need going forward,” Johnston said. “Unfortunately, many of those dire economic predictions are playing out.”
Johnston added the Chamber would work expeditiously to get the grant funds into circulation.
To jumpstart the process, an informational webinar for the Restart Flint & Genesee program will be held Friday, May 8, at 10 a.m.. The session will cover program details, application criteria and deadlines, and how the funds may be used, which will be for costs associated with restarting the business. The application will be available online following the webinar.
· In addition to being owned and operated in Genesee County, businesses may have up to 50 employees and must have been impacted significantly by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.
· Industry sectors that are eligible:
· Barbershops/hair salons
· Tattoo parlors; bars/restaurants
· Retail; construction/landscaping
· Senior living/care facilities, and
· Non-critical manufacturing
· Business may not be a franchise and must provide evidence of economic distress or barriers to success.
· Applications must be received by Sunday, May 24, to be considered for a grant in this first wave of funding. (*As the Chamber continues to pursue other funding sources to support the Restart Flint & Genesee program, additional grant opportunities will become available.)
Funding under the Restart Flint & Genesee program will support expenses directly associated with activities and purchases to reopen a business under guidelines and requirements for social distancing and safety of clients/customers.
“Through these grants, we are making an investment in our communities, business owners, workers and their families, and a commitment to help power through together,” said Hofmeister.
The Consumers Energy Foundation’s contribution is part of an effort to help small business customers in this time of need. The Flint & Genesee Chamber is one of nine organizations across Michigan to receive a portion of the $1.8 million the Foundation has allocated to help communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, the Foundation has given more than $3 million to meet the needs of Michigan residents during the ongoing crisis. (Consumers Energy is promoting a hotline, 800-805-0490, and ConsumersEnergy.com/smallbusinessrelief to provide meaningful and immediate help.)
The Foundation’s support also reflects Consumers Energy’s commitment to the communities where it does business and the continuation of its partnership with the Flint & Genesee Chamber. In 2017, the Consumers Energy Foundation joined with FlintNOW philanthropist and Detroit Pistons’ owner Tom Gores on a $2 million commitment to help fund the creation of the Flint Promise scholarship, a program administered by the Flint & Genesee Chamber.