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Announcing The Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund

Laura Cowan

By Laura Cowan

Laura K. Cowan is a tech editor and journalist whose work has focused on promoting sustainability initiatives for automotive, green tech, and conscious living media outlets.

Ann Arbor SPARK, Ann Arbor business

Small businesses in Washtenaw County have another option to help bridge the coronavirus crisis: Ann Arbor SPARK has just announced the new Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund. We spoke with SPARK Chief of Staff Phil Santer to get the details on this new financing option to help struggling businesses in the Ann Arbor area and surrounding regions.

"We worked with our county partners to put up $100,000 seed funding to provide $2,500 apiece to small business with fewer than 10 employees with an owner making less than $81,000 in income," Santer tells us of the new funding program. Despite the stringent criteria and smaller size of the funding available, Santer says the new program has already received hundreds of applications and "80-90% should fit the criteria."

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is also in process of launching a new grant program to help companies of under 50 employees bridge the gap through the coronavirus crisis. This program is still being formed, and we'll bring you more info when we have it available.

In the meantime, SPARK and the Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund are actively soliciting further funding from foundations, and also accepts donations from individuals through a GoFundMe linked below.

Ann Arbor SPARK, Michigan business resources COVID-19, coronavirus business funding, Ann Arbor business news

Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund Provides Grants to Distressed Small Businesses

Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, Ann Arbor SPARK, the Greater Washtenaw Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Entrepreneurship Center at Washtenaw Community College Collaborate to Provide Up to $2500 to Businesses in Need

ANN ARBOR, MICH. – Ann Arbor SPARK, the Greater Washtenaw Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Entrepreneurship Center at Washtenaw Community College have collaborated to create the Washtenaw Small Business Resiliency Fund. This emergency fund provides working capital grants up to $2,500 to qualifying small businesses which have had financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Washtenaw Small Business resiliency Fund is specifically aimed at small businesses with low income owners located in neighborhoods at high risk for displacement. The grants can be used to cover day-to-day operating expenses of the business, including payroll or losses due to COVID-19.

Washtenaw County businesses must meet specific criteria to qualify:

  • The business must have experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19
  • The business owner’s annual household income must be less than $81,000
  • The business must have 10 employees or less
  • The must have a physical presence in the County

“Just as Washtenaw County has been working hard to ensure residents have the latest public health information and access to essential services, we are committed to helping the small business community,” said Gregory Dill, Washtenaw County Administrator.  “We are proud to have seeded this fund with $100,000 and work with our partners in a truly collaborative way to support small business during this unprecedented time.”

“Stepping up to help the small businesses in our community during this extraordinary time is not only the right responsibility to take on, it’s an important extension of our mission to support these businesses that create jobs and contribute to the vitality of our community,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “Of note, we’re inviting those in our community looking to help small businesses to join us via a GoFundMe campaign.”

Ann Arbor SPARK is working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to secure additional support for this initiative to help small businesses.

For individuals interested in helping Washtenaw Small Businesses, a GoFundMe has been established to collect donations to support the initiative. The goal of the GoFundMe is to raise an additional $50,000 in capital to deploy to these valuable community businesses.

Ann Arbor SPARKSBDC, and United Way of Washtenaw County are all maintaining online resources for businesses seeking additional information and resources.

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