Small businesses locally owned and run by African Americans can now apply for $5,000 each to help cover costs for reopening safely as the state eases its coronavirus restrictions.
The “Restart Flint & Genesee Grant Program” was launched May 6 with $200,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation, which donated the funds to the Genesee Chamber Foundation, a supporting organization of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.
And today the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation announced it is adding $262,500 to those funds to support African-American businesses, specifically in Flint, closed under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order due to the pandemic.
The Chamber has established the following eligibility criteria for the grants, according to the press release from the Mott Foundation:
- The business was operating prior to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.
- The business is majority owned by one or more African Americans.
- The business is locally owned. No national franchises or chains.
- The business is an LLC or S-Corp located within the city of Flint.
- The business has no more than 50 employees.
- Operation of the business was significantly impacted by the executive order.
An informational webinar is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, May 15 to cover program details, application criteria and deadlines, and how the funds may be used, according to the Mott Foundation press release. The webinar will be shared on the Chamber’s Facebook Live and YouTube Live channels.
There will be a single application process for the Restart Flint & Genesee Grant Program. Business owners can apply and get more information at flintandgenesee.org/restart.
Expenses that could be covered by the grants are those needed to meet requirements for physical distancing and the safety of clients or customers, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, cleaning services and supplies, contactless payment systems and physical improvements to create space for physical distancing.
Here are further points from the the press release:
“If a business does not meet eligibility criteria for the funding made possible through the Mott grant, it will be considered under the broader criteria for grants made possible through funding from the Consumers Energy Foundation.
Priority will be given to businesses in industries hardest hit by closure due to COVID-19, such as salons, child care facilities, retail businesses and others. The business owner must demonstrate economic hardship, providing a narrative that describes challenges faced, proposed use of funds and how the business is critical to developing a sense of place for residents.
“As the Mott Foundation responds to the pandemic, our top priority is helping our hometown —especially the African American community, which has been hardest hit by the virus,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation.
“We know businesses want to protect their staff and customers as they reopen, and the changes they’ll need to make will require money at a time when their revenues are way down. We hope this grant will help them get up and running the way they want to.”
“These additional funds will enable us to extend financial support to many more businesses in Flint that need it as they prepare to reopen and operate their small businesses under the strict guidelines meant to protect public health,” said Chamber CEO Tim Herman.
Grant dollars focusing on the African American business community show care and support for those that have been impacted significantly, said George Wilkinson, president of NorthGate, located in Flint Township.
“Everyone has been affected. But just as this virus has wreaked havoc on the African American community, it has wreaked havoc on the African American business community,” said Wilkinson, who serves on the Greater Flint Coronavirus Taskforce on Racial Inequities.
“This support will help them significantly to move forward. It’s the salons, barber shops, the child care facilities, all of those very small businesses with less than 50 employees that are impacted the most and don’t always have access to the other support. This grant says ‘We see you. We recognize that you don’t have the resources others have to embolden you and provide help during this time.’”
“Using the funds for items to help the businesses open safely is extremely important, Wilkinson said.
“As president of NorthGate, I’m buying PPE, and it is no small endeavor. Those dollars are going to really be appreciated and, most of all, be impactful so people can live to serve their community like they have for many years,” he said. “No one saw this coming. Now they can see themselves getting back to serving their customers.”
–EVM Staff from Mott Foundation press release.