Crain’s Detroit Business
June 27, 2023
Help is on the way for Michigan small businesses still feeling the ill effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Michigan Strategic Fund on Tuesday approved a measure to establish Small Business Support Hubs that can apply for funding to invest in regional operations, deploy a variety of business support services and provide direct funding to small businesses that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
About $75 million in America Rescue Plan Act funds will be allocated to the formation of the hubs. Awards will be as much as $6 million.
Through the hubs, small businesses will gain increased access to financial capital, receive targeted outreach and culturally-competent small business support for underserved and diverse communities, see more equity and inclusion in program design, according to a briefing memo from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. There will also be an increased priority in investments into the small business ecosystem to build organizational capacity, enhance and diversify operations, strengthen programming and better meet distinct regional needs.
In Michigan, some 137,000 new small business applications were submitted in 2022, according to a news release from Gov Gretchen Whitmer’s office.
The objectives of the Small Business Support Hubs include:
- Support small businesses that are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- Cultivate a more inclusive, accessible, and integrated (tech and small business) entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- Increase the number of businesses served through new and scaled programming, technical assistance, and support services.
- Increase awareness of Michigan’s small business ecosystem; assist small businesses in navigating to and through local, regional, and statewide business support resources.
- Expand the geographic reach of network partners into underserved communities and rural areas.
- Raise the national profile of Michigan’s small business ecosystem.
The Michigan Strategic Fund will select grantees through an open, competitive application process. Eligible applicants are businesses that are headquartered in Michigan and in good standing with the state. They must identify as an entrepreneurial hub with physical spaces that provide entrepreneurs with training and resources including one-on-one coaching, consultations, workshops, seminars, incubation activities, and networking and mentorship opportunities and events.
Applications will be accepted July 10-Sept. 8. For more details on the program and how to apply, the MEDC will offer a webinar at 9:30 a.m. July 7. The meeting will be available on demand afterward. The concept for the Small Business Support Hubs was conceived in 2021 as part of a series of pandemic relief efforts under Whitmer’s MI New Economy Plan.
The hubs will build on the MEDC’s 20-member, tech-focused SmartZone network of consultants, coaches, nonprofits, universities, lenders, community and economic development partners, the memo stated. The SmartZones offer localized, low-cost co-working spaces, training and mentorship to entrepreneurs, researchers and startups.