Small businesses along the Lakeshore and across the state are taking advantage of a Michigan survival grant worth $55 million, providing support to those who need it most including retail stores, gyms, bowling alleys, and restaurants.
Jessica Luepke is the founder and co-owner of Valeo Training in Holland.
One of the beneficiaries is Anna’s House, a popular restaurant chain with locations in Holland and Grand Haven.
“Restaurants have struggled greatly during this shutdown, and we definitely have been impacted by not being able to serve our guests,” says Josh Beckett, Anna's House CEO. “This grant money will help us reopen and serve our community, as well as bring back our employees, who are eager to return to work and begin earning money.”
Lakeshore Advantage, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and regional partners, awarded $1,828,750 to 187 small businesses in Allegan and Ottawa counties through the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program. Grant awards ranged from $2,385 to $20,000.
“The vibrancy of our Lakeshore communities is closely tied to the viability of our beloved small businesses,” says Holly Johnson, president of the Frey Foundation and chair of the Lakeshore Advantage Survival Grant Review Committee. “Financial lifelines like the Michigan Small Business Survival Grants are so important because the funding ensures local restaurants, exercise facilities, and recreational venues that serve residents and visitors alike have a chance to rebound despite the significant challenges related to COVID-19 over the past year.”
The review committee
The Lakeshore Advantage Survival Grant Review Committee consisted of local chambers of commerce officials and other business and community leaders. The review process and scoring system approved by the review committee allowed for 32% of applicants in Allegan and Ottawa counties to receive funding. Demand for funding far exceeded available funds. Lakeshore Advantage received 585 grant applications with a total monetary request of $9 million.
Members of the Lakeshore Advantage Survival Grant Review Committee are:
- Holly Johnson, Frey Foundation (Chair)
- Denise Behm, Wayland Area Chamber of Commerce
- Elizabeth Butler, The Chamber of Commerce, Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg
- Gloria Lara, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance
- Jane Clark, Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce
- Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage
- Jodi Welscott, West Michigan Blue Star Chamber of Commerce
- Michelle Fare, Hudsonville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Rebecca Wildeboer, Coopersville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Summer Rietsma, Allendale Area Chamber of Commerce
- Tim Perrigo, Allegan Area Chamber of Commerce
“The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program is providing significant support to small businesses, helping to get them through this critical time and on the path to economic recovery,” says Josh Hundt, chief business development officer and executive vice president at MEDC. “We are thankful for the efforts of Lakeshore Advantage, who worked swiftly and diligently to deliver these vital financial resources within their region and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses in Michigan.”
$55 million across state
The state of Michigan allocated $55 million to implement the program to support the needs of Michigan businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Gatherings and Face Mask Order.
Anna’s House, a popular restaurant chain with locations in Holland and Grand Haven, will use its grant to reopen.
Lakeshore Advantage administered $1.925 million of that funding for eligible businesses in Allegan and Ottawa counties. Funds were distributed by Lakeshore Advantage directly to the grantees. As administrator of the Survival Grant locally, Lakeshore Advantage retained 5% of the $1.925 million, or $96,250. A portion of this administration fee was shared equally among strategic partners who assisted in the review process.
Applicants applied for the grant program through one universal application administered by MEDC. More information about the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program and how it was administered by Lakeshore Advantage in Allegan and Ottawa counties, including a list of grant recipients, is available at lakeshoreadvantage.com/covid-19/survival_grant
Without the grant, Café at City on a Hill in Zeeland wouldn't have been able to continue its mission, according to Gary Ellens, director of City on a Hill.
“The Café at City on a Hill is a welcoming place that feeds both body and soul for staff and clients of the 38 ministries at work here," says Ellens. "Closing and restricting service during COVID cast a shadow through our whole building. This grant fills a big gap in the non-profit Café’s budget and ensures that going forward, the Café can again be a bright place of food and fellowship.”
For Jessica Luepke, founder and co-owner of Valeo Training in Holland, the grant was crucial for the fitness facility.
“Day one of our six-month shutdown, we went into action mode and pivoted to online and outdoor, working long hours creating what felt like a new business overnight,” Luepke says. “Despite our ability to roll it out, we still lost a percentage of revenue that had taken us two to three years to build. The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant has given our business a breath of relief at just the right time.”