Today, the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce announced that 144 small businesses were awarded grants totaling $570,000 through the Restart Flint & Genesee Grant Program.
The grants, ranging from $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000, were awarded to small businesses from a variety of sectors, including barber shops/salon, retail, construction/landscaping, bars/restaurants and non-critical manufacturing. The funds must be used to cover expenses directly associated with activities and purchases to reopen a business under guidelines and requirements for social distancing and safety of clients/customers.
“Small businesses are critical to the health of our local economy and we need to do what’s necessary to help as many as possible to stay open,” said Chamber CEO Tim Herman. “These grant dollars will help businesses cover expenses to meet the reopening requirements set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order. This includes purchasing things like personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting products or new systems to support online and carryout purchases.
“Thanks to the support of our partners – Consumers Energy, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation and JP Morgan Chase – we were able to provide these grants to small businesses through the Restart Flint & Genesee program.”
The program received 538 applications, with 170 from businesses located in Flint and 368 from various out-county communities, including Burton, Davison, Fenton, Flushing, Goodrich, Grand Blanc, Montrose and Swartz Creek. Review committees comprised of business and community leaders in Flint and Genesee County evaluated the applications and selected the recipients. (Separate committees handled applications for Flint businesses and out-county businesses.)
The applicants represented a variety of industry sectors, but more than 50 percent were comprised of barbershops/salons (20.6 percent); retail (18.4 percent) and bars/restaurants (12.6 percent).
Restart Flint & Genesee also focused attention on the extraordinary needs of Black-owned businesses. As African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Black-owned business community has been hit hard, too. Recognizing this, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Ruth Mott Foundation each designated the use of their funds – $350,000 in total – to assist Black-owned businesses in Flint. As a result, 75 Black-owned businesses were awarded grants.
About 54 percent of the applicants self-identified as Black/African American.
The grants were restricted to covering expenses related meeting the guidelines and requirements for social distancing, such as:
- Purchase of personal protection equipment (PPE), such as masks, gloves, etc.
- Cleaning services to sterilize and deep clean facilities
- Cleaning supplies
- New Point of Sale systems that allow for carryout/online purchases
- Physical improvements to facilities that create space for social distancing, i.e. creating wider aisles
“Given the economic distress that small businesses in Flint & Genesee have suffered over the past three months, we knew that many would need help once it was time to reopen, particularly with expenses that would be incurred to safely bring back their employees and customers,” Herman said. “These grants should be helpful.”
For a list of businesses that received a Restart grant, click here.