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Business Resources

In response to the rapidly developing situation around COVID-19, both the federal and state governments working around the clock to support the needs of both employers and employees during these trying times. As information is constantly in flux and many groups are offering support measures, we are doing our best to keep what you need to know on one page. Jump to the information you need more quickly by clicking one of these links:

We are here for you! If you are a small business located in Southwest Michigan and are seeking guidance before you take action, you are invited to connect with a member of the Southwest Michigan First team by calling 269.553.9588.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) call center also stands ready to support businesses looking for assistance through other available state programs. For more information, visit MEDC’s website: www.michiganbusiness.org or call 888.522.0103.

CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $350 billion for 100 percent federally-guaranteed loans for eight weeks of assistance to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Sole-proprietors, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals are also eligible for these loans.

  • Loans can be forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities.
  • SBA-certified lenders and non-SBA lenders would be authorized to make Payment Protection loans. All lenders participating in the Payment Protection Program, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions will be moved to delegated authority which allows lenders to process loans quickly without SBA approval.
  • The Secretary of the Treasury would have authority to work with the SBA to expedite the approval process and bring new lenders into the program.

Resources:

Executive Orders

On Monday, March 23, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a Shelter-in-Place order for the State of Michigan. All Michiganders are required to stay home, with the exception of essential service workers, through midnight on April 13, 2020.

If you are either an essential services employer or critical lifeline company, you are exempt from the shelter-in-place protocol. Please review both of the federal websites linked to see if your company/workforce function meets the designation. If you are exempt from the Shelter-in-Place order, you are encouraged by Homeland Security to continue to operate to maintain our country’s critical infrastructure.

If you meet the definition of essential services employer or critical lifeline company, you should document that designation with an official letter on your company’s letterhead. We encourage you to give this letter to your employees. In addition, if you procure products or have customers in a shelter-in-place state, this documentation may be required.

Who Fits the Description of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers?

The list from the federal government can be found here. It identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing management functions, among others. The industries they support represent, but are not necessarily limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works.

To comply with the Governor Whitmer’s directive, businesses must determine if they are essential or non-essential. If you have questions about your status, we suggest you consult your corporate legal counsel OR employers and employees are asked to submit any questions about the order via email to LEO-Coronavirus@michigan.gov.

What Does a Letter Supporting Travel for a Vendor or Employee Look Like?

If an individual is supporting one of the industries defined as essential critical infrastructure, they are allowed to travel for their work during shelter-in-place restrictions. Here is a sample letter that can be modified to fit your needs. It should be printed on company letterhead and signed by a ranking company representative.

Other Executive Orders

Other Executive Orders issued by the governor and pertinent to business owners include:

Small Business Tools & Programs—Federal

Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, click here.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans are also available to residents in declared disaster areas. To view the full list of disaster declarations, click here.

To apply for a disaster loan unrelated to COVID-19, click here.

Federal Stimulus Support Through Paycheck Protection Program

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act which, among other things, allocated $350 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help small businesses keep workers employed during the COVID-19 outbreak. These loans can be up to 2.5 times the borrower’s average monthly payroll costs (not to exceed $10 million) and can be used for expenses like payroll, rent on a leasing agreements and payments on utilities.

On April 21, 2020, the House approved $484 billion in new COVID-19 aid. The deal includes an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including $60 billion specifically for community banks and smaller lenders, as well as $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion for testing, and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants. On April 23, the Senate approved the package and sent it to President Trump for his signature. The Small Business Administration will resume accepting PPP loan applications on Monday, April 27 at 10:30 am EDT from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower. This will ensure that SBA has properly coded the system to account for changes made by the legislation.

In response to the overwhelming success of PPP, Congress reauthorized the program and resumed application acceptance on July 6, 2020.

To learn whether your business qualifies for this loan, more information about how it could help your business and request a consultation with Southwest Michigan First, click here.

Section 4003 of the CARES Act: Loan Programs for Larger Businesses

The Treasury Department is authorized to provide a total of $500 billion in loans or loan guarantees to, or other investments in (i) three designated industry-specific businesses — passenger air carriers (and related businesses), cargo air carriers, and businesses critical to maintaining national security (collectively, the industry-specific businesses) and (ii) programs or facilities established by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) designed to support lending to businesses (other than the industry-specific businesses), states and municipalities. Industry-Specific Business Lending Program. Section 4003 of the CARES Act makes available the following amounts for loans and loan guarantees to industry-specific businesses: $25 billion for passenger air carriers (and related businesses). $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and $17 billion for businesses critical to maintaining national security. Learn more about the qualifications here.

SBA 7(a) Loan

The 7(a) Loan Program is SBA’s primary program for helping start-up and existing small businesses with financing guaranteed for a variety of general business purposes. SBA does not make loans itself, but rather guarantees loans made by participating lending institutions. In this way, taxpayer funds are only used in the event of borrower default. This reduces the risk to the lender but not to the borrower, who remains obligated for the full debt, even in the event of default.

Small businesses under SBA size standards should apply through their SBA-approved lender or bank for up to a $5 million loan.

SBA Express Bridge Loan Program

The Express Bridge loan program allows SBA Express lenders to provide expedited financing to small businesses located in declared disaster areas. Express Bridge loans are intended to be interim loans. Businesses use these short-term expedited of up to $25,000 for disaster-related purposes while they apply for and await long-term financing.

Only lenders that were already participating in the SBA Express program at the time of the disaster can issue Express Bridge loans. These lenders may issue Express Bridge loans only to eligible small businesses that had an existing banking relationship with the lender at the time of the disaster. Lenders can issue Express Bridge loans up to six months after the disaster declaration. Lenders may require a borrower to pay down or pay off the Express Bridge loan if the borrower is approved for long-term disaster financing that may be used to reimburse the Express Bridge loan.

To be eligible for an Express Bridge loan, a small business must be located, at the time of the disaster, in a county that’s been declared as a disaster area, or any contiguous county. The loan must be used to support the survival and/or reopening of the small business within the affected county. Read the program guide for complete details about the Express Bridge loan program.

Small Business Debt Forgiveness Program

This $17 billion program will provide immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and microloans. Under it, the SBA will forgive all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months.  This relief is also available to new borrowers who take out loans within six months of the CARES Act enactment.

Specifically, the CARES Act requires the SBA to pay the principal, interest, and associated fees for:

  • Covered loans, not in deferment, that were made prior to the enactment of this bill – for 6 months, beginning with the next payment due on the covered loan
  • Covered loans made before the date of enactment of this Act (March 27th) and on deferment, for 6 months, beginning with the next payment due on the covered loan after the deferment period
  • Covered loan made on/within 6 months beyond March 27th for 6 months beginning with the first payment due on the covered loan

Employer and Employee Retention Tax Credits under the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), enacted on March 27, 2020, is designed to encourage Eligible Employers to keep employees on their payroll, despite experiencing economic hardship related to COVID-19, with an employee retention tax credit (Employee Retention Credit).

The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to pay sick or family leave wages to employees who are unable to work or telework due to certain circumstances related to COVID-19. Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit for the required leave paid, up to specified limits. [See FAQs]. The same wages cannot be counted for both credits. Read more.

Main Street Lending Program

The Main Street Lending Program (Main Street Program) provides financing to lenders that make direct loans to main street businesses. This emergency lending facility will support small and mid-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the pandemic and that may be too small to access broader capital markets or the Federal Reserve’s facilities supporting larger corporates, or that may not qualify for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. The Main Street Program utilizes seed capital from the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund made available under Title IV of the CARES Act. When leveraged by the Federal Reserve, this capital provides up to $600 billion in liquidity to participating lenders that provide qualifying loans to eligible businesses. Lenders are required to retain a 5 percent share of each loan, selling the remaining 95 percent to the Main Street Program. This program will cease participations on September 30, 2020 unless extended by the Treasury and Federal Reserve. Eligible entities are businesses with up to 10,000 employees or up to $2.5 billion in 2019 annual revenues. Each such business must be created or organized in the U.S. or under the laws of the U.S. with significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the U.S. Here’s more.

Save Small Business Fund, an initiative of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, the Save Small Business Fund is a collective effort to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as possible. Starting April 20, 2020, a small businesses  with between 3-20 employees (not including independent contractors) can apply. The business must be located in an economically vulnerable community defined as the bottom 80% of the most economically distressed zip codes in the U.S. as ranked by the Distressed Communities Index and must have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. The application will take about 10 minutes to complete and will only require your business’s W-9 form and basic supporting information about your business. Applications open on April 20 at 3:00 pm EST.  You can set a reminder to notify you on the website.

USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

As part of the Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat. Farmers, shippers, and other suppliers are invited to learn how to move their food through the Farmers to Families Food Box program that supplies commodity boxes to non-profit organizations, identified by the offeror, on a mutually agreeable, recurring schedule. USDA will award contracts for the purchase of the agricultural products, the assembly of commodity boxes and delivery to identified non-profit organizations that can receive, store and distribute food items. Read up on the program’s FAQ and access its Request for Proposal documents.

R&D Tax Credit

The Research & Experimentation (R&D) tax credit, first enacted by Congress in 1981, incentivizes an enormous range of activities for companies of all sizes for work done within the U.S. Many activities that manufacturing companies already engage in regularly can potentially qualify. If businesses undertake certain innovations, repurposing, optimizations, ideation, or research into alternative methods that entail overcoming uncertainty in producing COVID-19 solutions, they may benefit from this tax incentive. Consult your tax accountant about this general business tax credit under Internal Revenue Code section 41.

Small Business Tools & ProgramsState of Michigan

Michigan Strategic Fund Support

Economic assistance for small businesses around Michigan that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 virus gained approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced March 19, 2020. The Michigan Small Business Relief Program will provide up to $20 million in support for small businesses negatively impacted. The funding is divided between $10 million in small business grants and $10 million in small business loans to support businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce. Funds for the program are expected to be available no later than April 1, 2020.

“We understand small businesses across our state are facing unprecedented challenges as we take every step possible to mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Through decisive actions like those taken today by the MSF Board to authorize relief for small businesses throughout Michigan, we are leveraging every resource available to support our businesses, communities and entrepreneurs around the state impacted by this outbreak.”

You can read the full release here. Southwest Michigan First is currently with its economic development partners on strategies for executing the program.

Michigan Small Business Restart Program Announced

The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) yesterday approved a $100 million program that will provide grants to Michigan small businesses working to recover from the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 virus, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced. Called the Michigan Small Business Restart Program, it will support Michigan’s small businesses that are reopening and have experienced a loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.  The MSF authorized distribution of the funding across 15 local or nonprofit economic development organizations (EDOs) covering all 83 counties in the state; locally, Southwest Michigan First was allocated $7,545,455 to distribute to qualifying small businesses in the seven-county region it serves. At least 30 percent of the funds awarded under the program must be provided to woman-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned eligible businesses. To qualify for grant support, businesses must meet the following criteria, based on statutory requirements for the program:

  • Has 50 employees or less
  • Is a business or nonprofit that can demonstrate it is affected by the COVID-19 emergency
  • Needs working capital to support eligible expenses
  • Demonstrates an income loss as result of the COVID-19 emergency

The Michigan Small Business Restart Program application will go live starting July 15 and run through August 5. Funds can be used as working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses. Small businesses should mark their calendars now.

Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program

The State of Michigan has appropriated $15 million of federal CARES Act funding through SB 690, signed into law by Governor Whitmer, to implement the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program. These grants will provide much needed funding to Michigan’s agricultural processors and farms in support of this critical industry in the state. Applicants must apply as either a processor or a farm – but not both – and funds will provide grants of up to $1,000 per employee to fund COVID-19 mitigation costs, including but not limited to testing costs, personal protection equipment, facility needs, increased sanitation costs, employee training, and upgraded safety procedures for farm-provided housing.

The Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants are divided between agricultural processors and farms:

  • $10 million in grants will be provided to processors statewide, with a minimum grant of $10,000 and a maximum grant of $200,000.
  • $5 million in grants will be available to farms statewide, with a minimum grant of $10,000 and a maximum grant of $50,000.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans

In March, Governor Whitmer’s request to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration was approved. This designation unlocks critical financial resources for small businesses to access the $1 billion in funding authorized by Congress for low-interest EIDL loans from the SBA. These loans will provide vital capital for businesses facing temporary economic hardships as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Small businesses apply for this EIDL directly with the SBA at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

PMBC COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants Program

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) program has launched a new grant program providing a total of $1 million in grants to Michigan’s small manufacturers looking to retool and produce critical health and human service supplies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The PMBC COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants program will award grants of $10,000 to $150,000 to companies that can quickly and effectively manufacture critical health and human service supplies. Michigan small businesses (per SBA size standards ) and established nonprofits are eligible to apply. Businesses can use the funds to support the purchase of equipment necessary to manufacture critical supplies, logistics and shipping costs of procuring necessary equipment, technology upgrades and other costs related to operationalizing new product lines. While the program does not guarantee sales channels, the PMBC team will assist grantees by connecting them with demand identified through the COVID-19 Virtual Procurement and Donation Assistance portal. To qualify, companies must submit an application here.

MIWISH Grants

MIWISH grants are now available for small employers who are looking to purchase safety and health-related equipment and equipment-related training for their team members. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Workplace Improvement to Safety and Health (MIWISH) Grant Program awards qualifying employers a dollar-for-dollar match—up to $5,000. The goal of the program is to create a safer and healthier work environment and reduce the risk of injury and illness to workers in Michigan. Preference will be given to employers with 250 employees or less, company-wide, in high-hazard industries identified in MIOSHA’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, but all projects will be evaluated based on the specific hazards addressed. Apply here.

State Expands Support Services Available for Startups and Entrepreneurs

The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved modifications to the Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) to provide greater support to business accelerators in Michigan’s statewide SmartZone network that are serving startups and high-tech companies impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and administered by the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Business Acceleration Fund (BAF) provides a series of small grants of up to $50,000 to business accelerators to help high-tech businesses access certain specialized services they need to grow. This announcement expands the use of funds for high-tech companies in need resulting directly from the public health crisis; expands size eligibility requirements and allowable use of funds for high-tech companies developing COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, or innovations that support the health care system’s response to the virus; and allows support for certain very small non-tech companies involved in the manufacture of distribution of personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies. For more information contact the WMed Innovation Center.

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to Make Grants to Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations

The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) has launched a new program providing a total of $502,400 in grants to Michigan’s eligible nonprofit arts and culture organizations that have been negatively impacted as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. MCACA, through funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts through the CARES Act, will make one-time grants to eligible nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, ensuring broad geographic distribution across Michigan. The funds can be used for salary support (full or partial) for one or more employees; fees for artists and/or contractual personnel; and facility costs, such as rent and utilities. To be eligible, applicants must be a nonprofit arts and cultural organization, have tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Services code, and be incorporated and physically located in Michigan. The maximum request for funding is $5,000 and there is no match requirement. Applications are due by 5:00 pm on May 1, 2020.

Michigan Humanities Offers Hope to Nonprofits

Michigan Humanities is providing emergency CARES Act funding to museums, libraries, archives, historic sites, and other humanities-focused nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 throughout Michigan. Michigan Humanities Organizations Pandemic Emergency (H.O.P.E.) Grants of up to $10,000 are now available to provide general operating support with an emphasis on maintaining personnel. Invited to apply are nonprofits authorized to operate in the state of Michigan and that uphold the key values of inclusion, diversity, and equity; discovery and understanding; authentic conversation; respectful collaboration; and meaningful experiences.

Want to learn more? At 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 23, join Michigan Humanities staff members to learn about the Michigan H.O.P.E. Grant opportunities via Zoom. They’ll cover funding eligibility, an overview of the application process, and time for questions. Registration is required.

Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund

The Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund is intended to support small businesses as they recover from unprecedented COVID-19 business closures. Grants and microloans will provide gap funding to ensure businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis, pivot to meet new or changed demand, or reopen their business quickly and safely when the executive order is lifted. Qualifying criteria are:

  • Being located in a disadvantaged area within a U.S. Small Business Administration designated HubZones and Opportunity Zones. For example, the City of Kalamazoo is an Opportunity Zone.
  • Demonstrating status as a low- to moderate-income borrower
  • Qualifying as a diverse business that can demonstrate ownership by underrepresented groups including, but not limited to, veterans, minorities and low-income men and women.
  • Business income of less than $500,000 in the previous year and fewer than 50 employees
  • Michigan-registered with priority given to disadvantaged areas and the following counties:  Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Shiawassee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Tuscola, Sanilac, Huron, Kent and Ingham

MI Local Biz

The new MI Local Biz  program builds on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)’s successful Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) program, in which residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. MI Local Biz will allow for a small business to utilize donation-based crowdfunding through Michigan-based Patronicity’s existing platform and to receive a 1:1 matching grant from MEDC of up to $5,000. Funds must be used by the businesses for working capital needs in order to maintain ongoing operations during and through the COVID-19 crisis. Applications will be accepted through the Patronicity platform starting May 18, 2020 at 8 a.m. Business applications will be evaluated on a first come, first served basis, with $500,000 in matching funds through the MEDC available.

Match on Main

Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)’s existing Match on Main program, which provides grants to Select or Master level Michigan Main Street communities in conjunction with eligible businesses seeking support, is being expanded to provide access to more communities and refocusing resources on recovery efforts of existing businesses, rather than helping open new businesses. The Match on Main–COVID-19 Response program will be opened up to all 286 engaged and certified Redevelopment Ready Communities  across the state of Michigan, in addition to the Michigan Main Street  communities that traditionally participate in the program. The expanded program also waives the matching requirement for the small business applicant which is required to receive funding under the traditional Match on Main program. The local unit of government, downtown development authority, Main Street organization or other economic development organization that represents a traditional commercial district including a downtown, neighborhood commercial district, or an area planned and zoned for concentrated commercial development is eligible to apply for up to $50,000. The minimum contribution that is able to be administered to any one business must be at least $2,000, with a maximum of $10,000. The applicant will determine which businesses are selected for inclusion in the application for support and at what desired grant amounts. The application window is May 13, 2020 through May 29, 2020. All applications will be due by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 29. Applications and more information can be found here.

Michigan SBDC to Host Free Webinars to Guide Business Owners

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is hosting free webinars over the next two weeks to help guide business owners amid COVID-19.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has designated COVID-19 as a qualifying event for the provision of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for businesses and private non-profits in declared zones. Click here to learn how to apply for a disaster loan.

Note: As of March 17, 2020, EIDL loans are not yet available in Michigan. Sign up here to receive an alert from the SBDC when they open!

Small Business Association of Michigan Daily Briefings

The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) is hosting daily briefings on Facebook at 3:00 pm to help small businesses navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Afterwards, they replay at sbam.org.

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program

This program assists bartenders that have experienced a catastrophic event or emergency hardship impacting their ability to work.

State of Michigan Updates

Viist org/covid19 to sign up for the MEDC’s COVID-19 resources newsletter and to stay up-to-date on the programs and support available for small businesses impacted by the virus in the state.

From the Treasury: Small Business Taxpayers Provided Tax Assistance

Small businesses that have experienced disrupted operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic now have additional time to make their sales, use and withholding tax monthly payment, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Effective immediately, small businesses scheduled to make their monthly sales, use and withholding tax payments on March 20 can postpone filing and payment requirements until April 20. The state Treasury Department will waive all penalties and interest for 30 days. Read the full press release here.

Small Business Tools & ProgramsLocal

Kalamazoo Small Business Loan Fund (SBLF)

The Kalamazoo Small Business Loan Fund, a partnership between the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and city of Kalamazoo and supported by the Foundation for Excellence, provides urgent relief to small businesses via low-interest loans of between $5,000 and $50,000 with approval and payment expected in a matter of days. Loans could be used to cover operational expenses, payroll and benefits. The SBLF is available to all businesses that provide support to impacted employees, are located within the city of Kalamazoo, have 50 FTE employees or fewer, need working capital for payroll or operational expenses, and can demonstrate an income loss related to COVID-19.

The total term of each loan will be 36 months. No payments will be required for six months, followed by a fully amortizing 30-month term at an interest rate of 1%. Applications will be reviewed for approval by an advisory board consisting of economic development and community representatives. Review is expected to take place weekly with a goal to wire funds as early as two days after receiving an application. This program is emergency relief and is intended to be temporary, with loans being made until approved grant funds are exhausted or its closure by the partners. Find complete information and apply entirely online at www.changethestory.org/kalamazoo-small-business starting at 8:00 am on April 1, 2020.

The program was designed by the UWBCKR and City of Kalamazoo based on national best practice models and local assistance from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership, and the Michigan Small Business Development Center. The strong community partnerships that exist in Kalamazoo made it possible to move this program from inception to execution in less than two weeks. It complements other relief programs that are also available to community members, including the UWBCKR Disaster Relief Fund and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation Urgent Relief Fund.

“This program aims to offer immediate life-lines to small businesses and their workers, especially those in the category of “asset limited, income constrained, employed” (ALICE), and retain workforce capacity in this time before state and federal programs to show impact,” said Chris Sargent, President & CEO of the UWBCKR.

Kalamazoo Micro-Enterprise Grants

Kalamazoo Micro-Enterprise Grants (KMEG) provide $5,000 grants to eligible microbusinesses within the city limits. The $500,000 grant program is designed to bring relief to Kalamazoo’s smallest businesses hit hardest by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is a partnership between the City of Kalamazoo and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region with support from the Consumers Energy Foundation and the city’s Foundation For Excellence. The application window is noon on May 13, 2020, through 5 p.m. May 27, 2020.

United Way’s Disaster Relief Fund is Available to Help Nonprofits in Kalamazoo

The United Way’s Disaster Relief Fund and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s Community Urgent Relief Fund (DRF) are a unified effort to fundraise and deploy emergency response funds has been created in which the Gryphon Place’s Kalamazoo County Response Consortium (KCRC), will be the entry point for funding access. Funders are working to create a simple and unified process to coordinate and expedite the distribution of funds to community non-profits. Gryphon Place is convening weekly calls with community partners to help determine the most pressing needs and strategize solutions that can be implemented nimbly.

Economic Relief for Small Businesses in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has declared Berrien and Cass Counties disaster areas under COVID-19. This means that small businesses and private non-profits located in these counties are now eligible for financial assistance up to $2 million dollars under the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Get additional information and apply here.

Additionally, Cornerstone Alliance is an SBA intermediary that provides microloan funding for small businesses. Microloans are available for $500 to $50,000 to businesses located in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties. Microloans can be combined with the SBA EIDL loan program. If you have an existing microloan, you may be eligible for additional financial assistance under the microloan program. Click for more information about the microloan program or contact Dubelsa Mata-Garcia at dmata@cstonealliance.org.

If you have an existing microloan and you are having a hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for payment relief. Complete this survey to submit your request.

Berrien County Rent and Mortgage Payment Program (RAMPP)

Cornerstone Alliance, Berrien County’s lead economic development agency, has partnered with the Berrien Community Foundation and the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council to create a zero-interest loan program for Berrien County businesses and nonprofit organizations that have a rent or mortgage payment due in April and May of 2020. Resources provided through the Rent and Mortgage Payment Program (RAMPP) are now available to small business owners and nonprofits upon application. Business owners and nonprofit organizations who have a physical presence in Berrien County and can find the full program details and apply here.

City of Battle Creek Resources

For businesses located in the City of Battle Creek please visit Battle Creek Unlimited’s COVID-19 Resource Page.

Small Business Tools & Programs—Other

FedEx #SupportSmall Grants

FedEx is making $1 million available through FedEx #SupportSmall Grants. Each grant recipient will receive $5,000, plus a $500 credit from FedEx Office, to be used for printing banners, posters, floor graphics, custom branded boxes, and more. To apply, you must be older than 18; be a U.S.-based for-profit small business in operation and selling for more than one year, with less than 50 employees; have less than $5 million in annual sales revenue in 2019; and have shipped in the last 12 months and/or plan to ship in the coming 12 months as part of your business. Nonprofits, franchised businesses, direct-seller/reseller businesses, independent consultants, and previous winners in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest are not eligible to apply for this grant. The application process starts on Monday, May 25, 2020 and ends on June 12.

The Red Backpack Fund

Since its inception, Spanx and The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation have been dedicated to elevating and supporting women through entrepreneurship. Knowing the ripple effect that empowering women can have to strengthen neighborhoods, cities and countries, The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19 and teamed up with GlobalGiving to establish the Red Backpack Fund. GlobalGiving will be overseeing the fund, making 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate the immediate needs and support the long-term recovery of those impacted by this crisis. Applications open at noon on April 6, 2020.

Restaurant Employee Relief Fund

Through the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (NRAEF), the National Restaurant Association is providing grants to restaurant industry employees who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 financially, whether through a decrease in wages or loss of employment that results in a lack of resources to pay for essential expenses. Grants will be awarded as soon as possible to those individuals who meet the prescribed eligibility criteria, as reviewed and verified by the NRAEF. Subject to the availability of funds contributed to the Fund, a one-time grant of $500 will be disbursed directly to the applicant following NRAEF’s review and confirmation that their submitted application meets the prescribed guidelines. Applications are expected to reopen on April 10, 2020.

Small Business Funds You Should Know About

There may be additional grant monies available to you as a number of companies are offering $5,000 to $10,000 grants that can help keep your small business afloat during the coronavirus crisis. Learn more about whether your small business might qualify and how you can apply below. Keep in mind that funds may have several rounds and, if currently closed, should be continuously monitored for reopening.

Virtual Procurement Assistance

Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) Virtual Procurement Assistance is sourcing health and human service supply needs amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The PMBC is looking for both buyers and suppliers of critical health and human service supplies across a broad range of product categories. Potential items to supply could include cleaning supplies, equipment, food and water, medical devices, paper products, pharmaceuticals, testing supplies, textiles, vitamins, and more. Potential buyers are childcare facilities, community centers, education institutions, food distribution centers, healthcare facilities, homeless shelters, municipalities/government, nonprofit, etc. Join in this important effort by starting here.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Benefits Increased and Expanded

Governor Whitmer today has announced new programs for workers affected by COVID-19. The governor, under the federal CARES Act, signed an agreement between Michigan and the U.S. Dept. of Labor to implement Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs that grant benefits to workers who do not already qualify for state unemployment benefits. Workers include self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can no longer work because of the pandemic. The agreement also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week and extends benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks. If someone has already applied for unemployment benefits, you DO NOT need to reapply at this time.

Update: On April 22, 2020, Governor Whitmer extended unemployment benefits to workers who voluntarily left a job after accepting new employment but were unable to start their new position due to the pandemic.    Executive Order 2020-57. The order also:

  • Allows anyone with an active unemployment claim to receive up to 26 weeks of benefits.
  • Suspends the requirement for an individual seeking unemployment to request a registration and work search waiver from their employer.
  • Expands cost-sharing with employers to reduce layoffs.

New Filing Schedule

The new system uses alphabetical order to manage web visits and calls. It is being implemented as UIA has moved nearly all of its staff members to customer service positions in order to faster assist Michiganders in filing for benefits. At the same time, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget is working to expand capacity and infrastructure of the State’s online systems. Potential benefit recipients can help alleviate the system overload by following a few simple steps:

  • If you have a computer and the internet, please use the website, not the phone system, to apply for benefits: Michigan.gov/UIA.
  • Log onto the website during off-hours for better access – late at night or very early in the morning.
  • Please be patient. If the page is loading slowly, DO NOT refresh. Give it a few minutes to load.
  • View the online tool kit and frequently asked questions before you apply to ensure that you have the appropriate information and documents you will need on hand.
  • If you must use the Call Center, please observe the alphabetical system outlined below beginning this Sunday to help ease the burden.

Online Filing Schedule

  • Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
  • Saturdays will be available for anyone who could not file during their allotted window.

To fill online, visit Michigan.gov/UIA.

Call Center Filing Schedule

  • Last names beginning with the letters A-L are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Last names beginning with the letters M-Z are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Fridays (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) will be available for anyone who could not file during their allotted window.

The Call Center number is 1.866.500.0017.

When you file will NOT affect whether you are approved for benefits or the amount of payment. You will be compensated from the date you were laid-off or released from your employment. You have 28 days from your last day of work to apply for benefits.  UIA understands the urgency that benefit recipients are experiencing, but the fastest way to secure benefits is to follow the UIA guidelines.

The current situation is unprecedented, and UIA is doing everything in its power to ensure that those who are eligible for benefits receive them. Our team is working as quickly as possible to process applications and approve benefits. Your assistance is essential to maximizing our efficiency as we work to help all Michiganders get the financial support they have earned.

Self-Employed Workers, Gig Workers, 1099-Independent Contractors and Low-Wage Workers

Update as of April 1o, 2020: Michigan’s self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers affected by COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) beginning Monday, April 13 at 8:00 am at Michigan.gov/UIA. Under the federal CARES Act, workers on state unemployment have already begun receiving the set $600 federal weekly payment in addition to their state benefit amount. Michigan is one of the first states to begin sending the $600 payment. Other items of note announced are:

  • Self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers who have previously applied for unemployment benefits and have been denied should login to their MiWAM account to complete the next steps for PUA federal benefits. These steps will also be emailed to workers. They should not file a new claim, as that may delay the time it takes to get their benefits.
  • All newly eligible workers will need to provide proof of income to receive the maximum amount they are entitled. This could include W-2s, 1099 tax forms, and pay stubs. These workers will begin receiving federal benefits as early as April 20 after their bi-weekly certification. Individuals on paid sick leave or other paid leave – and those who have the ability to telework with pay – are not eligible for PUA. 
  • Workers already collecting state unemployment benefits have begun receiving the $600 federal set amount in addition to up to $362 they were previously eligible for. These payments are disbursed at the same time as their state benefits through direct deposit or debit card after their bi-weekly certification.
  • Eligible self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors, and low-wage workers will begin receiving their state benefit amount (paid with federal funds) and the $600 federal payment as early as April 20.
  • The UIA assures every eligible worker in Michigan who applies for unemployment benefits will receive them. The UIA will be accepting claims and benefit applications back-dated to reflect the date on which the claimant was laid-off due to COVID-19, beyond the previously established 28-day period ($600 federal payment is only retroactive back to March 28).  

Tried to login and experienced technical troubles? To better serve Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) claimants experiencing MILogin and Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) technical difficulties when applying for benefits, the Department. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) has implemented new online tools to help users report and resolve technical issues. MILogin is the state’s single-sign-on portal to access state services, while MiWAM acts as the UIA’s system for filing your unemployment insurance claim and managing UIA accounts online. Claimants who previously experienced technical problems that are not yet resolved are encouraged to go back into the system at Michigan.gov/UIA to report the issues to the technical team so that the issue will be expedited for resolution.

Resources

Guidance for Employers Contemplating Layoffs

What To Do If You’re an Employer

On Monday, March 16, 2020, the Governor issued an executive order to temporarily expand eligibility for unemployment benefits. Under the order, an employer or employing unit must not be charged for unemployment benefits if their employees become unemployed because of an executive order requiring them to close or limit operations. You can view executive order 2020-10 here.

Read this summary to better understand the governor’s order which extends unemployment benefits to: 

  • Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including those who have childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill. 
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immuno-compromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off. 
  • First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.

As of March 18, 2020, the state is giving guidance to employers contemplating potential layoffs. Work Share and Temporary Leave are encouraged. Here’s the latest update.

“We know that many families and businesses are and will experience economic pain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said LEO Director Jeff Donofrio. “Through Governor Whitmer’s executive action and existing state programs, there are resources for employers affected by COVID-19. We are also strongly urging job providers facing work shortages to place their employees on temporary leave as opposed to termination, so that they may remain eligible for potential federal assistance.”

Expanded Work Share Program in Michigan

The same order also expands the State’s Work Share program. Employers are encouraged to implement the program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. With the plan, eligible employees work a reduced number of hours in the work week and receive a portion of weekly unemployment benefits. Participation in Work Share allows employers to retain trained employees and avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees.

More information about Work Share can be found here.

On April 22, 2020, Governor Whitmer expanded the state’s work share program, offering more tools to employers to reduce layoffs in Executive Order 2020-57.

WARN Notices

With the volume of impacted employers experiencing closures, it is impossible for Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to keep up with the demand and response to all layoffs currently. The following information and resources below should assist in providing information.

It is important to prioritize permanent layoffs of 50+ employees first, then those with less than 50 employees second.

The following information should be shared with employers and employees impacted as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The attached guidance materials include:

  1. Unemployment Insurance 101 One-Pager
  2. Worker Layoffs Due to COVID-19: What You Need to Know One-Pager

Federal law requires employers to provide at least 60 DAYS NOTICE to employees and certain goverment agencies and officials – but there are THREE EXCEPTIONS to that requirement:

  1. “faltering company” applies to plant closings, but not to mass layoffs and should be narrowly construed.
  2. “unforeseeable business circumstance” – Applicable for COVID-19 – applies to plant closings and mass layoffs caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time the 60-day notice would have been required.
  3. “natural disaster” applies to plant closings and mass layoffs due to any form of natural disaster.

Notice must be provided as soon as is practicable even when these exceptions apply, and the employer must provide a statement of the reason for reducing the notice requirement, in addition to fulfilling other notice information requirements.

Please refer to the Worker Layoffs Due to COVID-19: What You Need to Know One-Pager linked above regarding submitting written notice.

If you have any questions or comments, please email your TAA/RR State Coordinator or email LEO-RapidResponseCommunications@michigan.gov. Attached is the TAA/RR State Coordinator contact list. Staff will collect questions and continue to provide guidance to the field.

Financial Relief Measures

Financial institutions across Michigan have announced steps they are taking to alleviate economic injury experienced by consumers and businesses. Here are links to programs that have been passed along to our team:

Other Sources

Kiva, a non-profit that expands access to capital for entrepreneurs around the world, is also answering the call to support struggling businesses looking for a 0% interest load up to $15,000 prepared. If your businesses is not already a Kiva Trustee-endorsed project, local members of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) can help you get an endorsement. Contact a LISC member that supports your type of business to learn more to start your application:

  • Chris Dilley — Food-based businesses
  • Debi Howe — Any business type in the city of Kalamazoo
  • Tammy Taylor —  Any business type in the city of Kalamazoo
  • Pat Taylor —  Any business type in the city of Kalamazoo

Legal Task Forces

Law firms are rising to cope with this unprecedented challenge to everyday life. In addition to challenges to their own services due to court closures and community responses limiting face-to-cace contact, they are tackling  concerns as contractual agreements and supply chain matters. Many closely monitoring policies affecting labor and employment relations, policies to govern self-quarantine, and how to handle business immigration issues that may arise. We invite you to research what those with a presence are doing to best serve your needs.

Federal Resources

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Guidelines: Read OSHA’s recommendations and guidance for preparing workplaces for COVID-19.
  • Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act: Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to respond to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers. Read the Q&A.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA and Rehabilitation Act rules continue to apply, but do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19 affected employees. Employers should remember that guidance from public health authorities is likely to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Therefore, employers should continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act Q&A: This Q&A addresses the use of volunteers in the workplace, wages due to employees, and much more.
  • Homeland Security: Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers: This memorandum identifies the initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help State and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.

Employer Best Practices

How to Reopen Safely

  • COVID-19 Public Health Guidance to Reopen Workforce: Wondering how to return your place of business to work safely? Kalamazoo County has compiled this valuable resource offering recommendations for reopening your business safely by industry from the Michigan Economic Recovery Council, resource tools for your workplace, how to access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and employee mental health support.
  • Michigan Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration (MIOSHA) within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) have issued workplace guidelines for employers and employees and created a new hotline, 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219), to answer guideline questions and further protect Michigan’s workforce from the spread of COVID-19.

Personal Protective Equipment

Business Leaders for Michigan

National & Global Health Data

CDC Resources

Global Health Updates

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services

Southwest Michigan First

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