July 30th, 2020

Grants Available for Michigan Small Businesses

Author: Eric Lynch
Eric Lynch
Partner & Director of Business Development

Two major grant funding programs are available through the Michigan Small Business Restart Program and through Michigan’s State Trade Expansion Program (MI-STEP).

Many Michigan businesses have suffered from the prolonged economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are resources available to help struggling businesses stay afloat. Recently, two grant programs are offering funds to support businesses and help maintain economic growth.

First off, the State of Michigan has allocated $100M of funds from the CARES Act toward small businesses in need. Grants of up to $20K are being awarded to businesses who fit the criteria, and the grant money can be used for a range of needs.

However, the deadline to apply for the Restart Program grant is August 5th, so businesses should act quickly if they want to receive funding. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has more information and a link to apply on their resource page, but for now, here are the details.

The second of these grants is the MI-STEP program, designed to spur job creation through economic expansion. The grant will match approved business spending up to $15K for the fiscal year.

We’ll get into details on this program in a moment. To start, let’s cover the Michigan Small Business Restart Program, is the window for application is tight. If you miss the August 5th deadline, you may still be able apply for MI-STEP grants.

To be eligible for Restart Program grant funding you must:

  • Be a business or non-profit located in Michigan with 50 employees or fewer worldwide.
  • Demonstrate that you have lost income as a result of Covid-19.
  • Need capital to support payroll and other business expenses.

Additionally, 30% of funds are reserved for businesses that are owned by women, minorities, or veterans. You also do not need to have a store front to be eligible. Online-only (e-commerce) businesses can apply if they are legally considered a Michigan business, even if they have a diversified workforce with employees located in other states or internationally.

What can you spend your grant money on?

Grants can be applied to any expenditures made between March 1st, 2020 through the end of the year. Like the eligibility requirements, the criteria for valid expenditures are intentionally broad. In short, you can use you grant money for:

  • Expenses incurred as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, including any expenses that were the result of employment or business interruptions.
  • Working capital to support payroll, rent, mortgages, utilities, costs needed to refit businesses for reopening, and other uses authorized by the CARES Act.

One eligible use that is particularly relevant to our business is fund for web development and marketing. As a Michigan web development and digital marketing agency, we’ve seen a surge of interest in many of our services from businesses who have an urgent need for an online presence. For businesses that have had to establish an e-commerce store seemingly overnight, the availability of grant funds is a huge boon.

Similarly, many businesses have needed to put more energy into marketing, to help inform their audiences of changes to their business, including new hours, new operating procedures, and new products available on their new online stores.

MI-STEP offers up to $15K to spur job creation and economic expansion.

As we said earlier, the MI-STEP program is designated for businesses seeking to expand their economic footprint. During the novel coronavirus pandemic, some of the funding resources available have shifted to help support e-commerce infrastructure.

In particular, while the grant will reimburse businesses for 50% of their spending (up to $15K) per year in most areas, MI-STEP has increased that percentage to 75% for international website development through September 29,2020. In other words, if you need an e-commerce website to support international business growth, now is the time to apply for funding.

MI-STEP funding can also be used to support marketing, but only in regions where the business is trying to expand—which includes international markets. For instance, if a business is trying to grow a market in Canada, then they can use funds to market their products in Canada, but not to support marketing in their current regions. Spending on marketing is capped at $6K per year.

You can read more about the program from the MI-STEP eligibility and application guidelines.

Build/create studios can help you with your marketing and ecommerce needs.

We have been added to a statewide directory of resources for providing web and e-commerce services to businesses who need assistance bringing their offerings online at this time. We are proud that the experience we have built over the past decade in e-commerce web development and digital marketing now has the opportunity to help businesses grow despite the current economic crisis. If you want to learn more about how we can support your business growth, contact us today.

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