Possible New Grants Manistee County Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

The Manistee Industrial Corporation is working with Venture North, hoping to make grants of $5,000 available to Northern Michigan businesses with nine or fewer employees impacted by COVID-19.

With leadership and financial support from the Manistee Industrial Corporation (IDC), small Manistee County businesses with nine or fewer employees impacted by the coronavirus pandemic will hopefully be able to seek grants soon of up to $5,000 through the Regional Resiliency Program aimed at helping them through the global crisis.

“We feel this program will help many small businesses become more resilient in an unparalleled time of difficulty,” says IDC Board Member Steve Brower. “They are instrumental to our way of life and economic future. They are farmers, restauranteurs, owners of hotels and motels, food processors and marketers of industrials products, jewelry and art.  They offer world-class fishing and kayak and canoe trips and winter adventures. They provide a gateway to our lakes, rivers, dunes and spectacular golf courses. This is a great time to unify around helping these colleagues and neighbors.”

The IDC pledged $50,000 with a 1:1 match requirement to Venture North Funding & Development, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit that began the Regional Resiliency Program (RRP) on May 27, 2020, with a grant of $200,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation to help small businesses in Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. Since then, a total of 300 applications for $1,300,000 in funding have been received and 139 grants have been made totaling $348,515.

As soon as $20,000 in match is secured, a grant application round of $40,000 will be announced for eligible small businesses. The goal is to secure at least an additional $50,000 to match the IDC contribution so that the program will provide at least $100,000 in assistance.

“Congratulations to the IDC for leading the way so that Manistee County small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can apply for life-line grants once the matching requirement is met,” says Laura Galbraith, executive director of Venture North. “As with our work in other areas of northwest Michigan, all funds granted for the Manistee County Regional Resiliency Program will be granted to small businesses with nine or fewer employees that successfully apply to the program.”

Galbraith says that donations toward the match can be made online by hitting the “Donate to the Fund” button at venturenorthfunding.org/regional-resiliency-fund or by contacting Venture North at 231-995-7110.

“The mission of the IDC, formed in 1958, is to help develop the economy of Manistee County with funding that supports business and job growth,” Brower says. “If ever there was a time when small businesses need extraordinary help, now is that time to step up with help. The RRP fund goal is to keep small enterprises afloat and help them make adjustments to COVID-proof their businesses into 2021. We have over 1,200 businesses in Manistee County with nine or fewer employees. Our grant won’t meet all needs and we are calling on other corporations and sources of grants and donations to join us in contributing funds to help our small business neighbors.”

Galbraith says Venture North manages the grant application and grant-making process and communications while the IDC will form a local advisory team to encourage grant applications and review and provide recommendations on applications submitted. Venture North is also seeking funds from a variety of sources that would provide grants to small businesses in all counties participating in the program, including Manistee County. Other funders to date include Consumers Energy Foundation, Bellaire Chamber Foundation, Brookby Foundation, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, DTE Energy Foundation, Fifth-Third Bank, Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Huntington Bank, TCF, Leelanau Township Community Foundation and private philanthropy.

“We believe that Manistee County interests will step up to the match requirement,” Galbraith says.  “Any eligible small business in the county that wants to receive a grant application as soon as they are available may do so by providing their contact information at venturenorthfunding.org/regional-resiliency-fund. We will broadly announce the grant application process in news releases and on our website.”

Galbraith explains the grants are provided by transferring the cash amount to the bank account provided by the small business applicant. She says funds have been used for a wide variety of purposes, including inventory purchases, development of online marketing and sales systems, payroll, rent and leases, advertising and much more.