Sterling Heights

Sterling Heights, wider Macomb host small business webcasts, grant funds during COVID-19

In Sterling Heights, closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic are already hitting the city's 2,031 active businesses hard, and the city this week launched initiatives to help small businesses in particular.

"We are in the middle of conducting a business survey," said Senior Economic Development Advisor Luke Bonner. "The most critical need for companies right now is financial resources, they are in need of information consistently regarding federal programs."

Sterling Heights and Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce (SHRCCI) are partnering on the distribution of a business survey, aimed at identifying the short- and long-term needs of businesses as a result of the current pandemic. The city is also hosting a series of webcasts this week.

These short video briefings, dubbed “COVID-casts,” will feature area business experts sharing important tips on business matters related to the pandemic. Topics include navigating the Federal Disaster Loan Program, with Tom McFadden from the Small Business Administration (SBA), "Available Loan Options for Business" with Tom Alongi from UHY, "Small Business Planning and Risk Management" with Marc Kaszubski from O'Reilly Rancilio, and "Business Interruption" with Joe Haney from Sterling Insurance Group.

“The intent of our COVID-casts is to provide expert advice on what to do now and what to prepare for over the next 30 to 90 days,” said Stacy Ziarko, president and CEO for SHRCCI. “Our goal is to leverage the expertise of our local partners in order to meet the critical needs of our business community.”

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor.

“It is vitally important that we help our business community through this crisis, and we understand how important a role they play in providing the goods, services and income that sustains our community,” said Mayor Michael Taylor.

“In times like these, one of the most important things we can share with our business community is knowledge and resources.”

Macomb county also plans to use $800,000 in grant money and up to $100,000 in matching funds to support small businesses as they deal with setbacks caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) has announced it is working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which recently pledged $20 million in support for small businesses, and plans to distribute community grants for small businesses. MCPED expects to open the grant application process early April and businesses of less than 50 employees, who have continued to support staff, are eligible to apply.

Businesses will receive between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on need and priority and MCPED anticipates the funding will provide direct relief to 90 to 150 businesses in Macomb County.

“Our goal with this effort is to make sure they have the funding necessary to get through this period of uncertainty so they can remain open or reopen in the future and provide services and employment opportunities for our community, said Vicky Rad, director, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development.

MCPED plans to use $800,000 in MEDC grants and up to $100,000 in matching funds from First State Bank.

“This COVID-19 crisis is going to impact all of us,” said Gene Lovell, president and CEO, First State Bank. “Working together, we will get through it. Our small, local businesses, through no fault of their own, are struggling now."

"We depend upon our local businesses, and right now, they are depending on us. We are here to help.”

“Macomb County is committed to ensuring our small businesses survive this crisis,” said Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “These local companies and organizations make Macomb a great place to call home and we will do everything we can to help them get through the COVID-19 situation.”

Read more articles by Kate Roff.

Kate Roff is a freelance writer and editor, currently based out of Detroit. Contact her at kate@wanderoff.com.au
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