Nearly 700 small businesses awarded grants through Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative

Nearly 700 small businesses across Michigan have been awarded $10 million in grants through the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced Thursday. The program, administered by the Michigan Municipal League Foundation, was launched to provide relief for small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative utilized $10 million in federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CARES Act funding to provide economic assistance to small businesses across Michigan. Michigan’s small businesses that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic were able to apply for grants of up to $15,000 through the program.

MEDC selected the Michigan Municipal League (MML) Foundation as the single, statewide grant administrator for the Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative. MML Foundation reviewed submitted applications from all 10 prosperity regions across the state. The Foundation wanted to take on this effort because small, local businesses are essential to building and sustaining community wealth, said Helen D. Johnson, president of the Foundation.

Funds were awarded on a first-in basis, with the majority of funding disbursed to grantees in less than 60 days from the application window opening.

Region 1—which includes Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, Gogebic, Baraga, Iron, Marquette, Dickinson, Menominee, Alger, Delta, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, Chippewa counties—assisted 34 businesses with total funding of $500,000.

Region 2—which includes Emmet, Grand Traverse, Charlevoix, Antrim, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Wexford, Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau counties—assisted 35 businesses with total funding of $500,000.

Region 3—which includes Alcona, Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Alpena, Iosco, Otsego, Crawford, Roscommon, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda counties—assisted 28 businesses with total funding of  $400,000.

Region 4—which includes Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, Ottawa counties—assisted 88 businesses with total funding of  $1,300,000.

Region 5—which includes Clare, Isabella, Gratiot, Gladwin, Midland, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac counties—assisted 41 businesses with total funding of  $600,000.

Region 6—which includes Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair counties—assisted 59 businesses with total funding of  $850,000.

Region 7—which includes Clinton, Eaton, Ingham counties—assisted

41 businesses with total funding of  $600,000.

Region 8—which includes Berrien, Cass, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Calhoun, Branch counties—assisted 55 businesses with total funding of  $800,000.

Region 9—which includes Livingston, Washtenaw, Jackson, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Monroe counties—assisted 61 businesses with total funding of  $900,000.

Region 10—which includes Oakland, Macomb, Wayne counties—assisted 240 businesses with total funding of  $3,550,000.

Johnson said the feedback received from many of the grant recipients was inspiring and came from business owners throughout the state.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Tim Vander Zwaag, owner of The Farmhouse Restaurant in Zeeland. “We were literally at a breaking point for our business when we learned we were awarded this grant. It is truly a blessing.”

“It’s been a difficult two years for us. We had reopened our food mart after it had been destroyed by arson when the pandemic hit,” said Abdur Rahman, owner of Saeed’s Food Mart in Detroit. “My business is located in an underserved community and I feel really proud to give them a full meal at their budget. This grant was a lifesaver for us and will go a long way to helping pay for our expenses and continue supporting our customers and community.”

“I had tears of joy when we got word we received this grant. I had no idea how I was going to tell nine employees, who have been struggling for 10 months, that they would not have a job to come back to,” said Denise Strong, owner of Triple J Café in Carsonville.

To qualify for grant support, businesses were required to meet a number of criteria, including but not limited to:

• Being a business in one of the targeted industries.

• Identifying a need for payroll, rent, or mortgage payments, and/or utility expenses necessary to continue or restart business operations.

• Having at least two employees (including the owner) but fewer than 50.

• Be a for-profit business, per HUD guidance.

• Meet the HUD National Objective for Job Retention by retaining jobs that would otherwise be lost without assistance through employment verification.

• Additional eligibility requirements can be found on

In addition, applicants were required to self-certify that they are following all state and local orders related to COVID-19, including, but not limited to, those issued by DHHS and county health departments. 

These federal CARES Act dollars were distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Michigan Community Development Block Grant program.

“The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative provided support to small businesses helping to get them through a critical time and is part of the $240 million in relief that has been provided to small businesses across the state in the past year,” said MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton. “The Michigan Municipal League Foundation has been a great partner in helping to efficiently and effectively deliver these vital financial resources across the state and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses throughout Michigan.” 

In total, the MEDC has launched 23 COVID-19 relief and recovery programs that have supported 25,142 businesses in the state and helped to retain approximately 200,000 jobs across all 83 counties. To learn more about MEDC’s COVID-19 response programs and the impact they are having on economic recovery efforts, visit Other resources for economic reopening efforts as well as businesses across Michigan struggling with economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus can be found online at