Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Director Vicky Rad announce grants for local businesses earlier this year. The county recently announced another round of grants.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Director Vicky Rad announce grants for local businesses earlier this year. The county recently announced another round of grants.

File photo provided by Macomb County


Macomb County offers 3 more grant programs to small businesses

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published September 9, 2020

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MACOMB COUNTY — Small businesses across Macomb County continue to receive financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to dollars allocated by the federal government.

On Sept. 1, the county announced that three new grant programs — the Microenterprise Assistance Grant Program, the Workplace Safety Grant and the Online Business Connect Program — are providing businesses with a multi-faceted approach to deal with financial hardship.

“We are committed to our business community and want them to succeed,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said in a statement. “This next round of grants provides unique opportunities for dealing with the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Whether this means helping businesses get online and improve their digital footprint, or reimbursing them for the costs of PPE, our team at planning and economic development is being creative and finding new ways to boost local organizations.”

Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Director Vicky Rad said that monies for all three grants are allocated as part of the CARES Act. The Microenterprise Assistance Grant Program dollars come from the Community Development Block Grant program, administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and is a separate allocation.

“Part of HUD programming is to really concentrate on those distressed communities, as well as low-income individuals,” Rad said.

That specific grant is offering up to $2 million to qualified microenterprises, which are businesses with five employees or fewer and include the owner as an employee. These are businesses that have experienced a loss of revenue or income due to COVID-19 or those that incurred additional expenses to stay up and running. The parameters will be defined by business owners when they submit their application, Rad said.

Those applications will be accepted until 11:59 a.m. Sept. 30.

There are more than 18,000 businesses in Macomb County, and about 99% of them have 49 or fewer employees. Rad called it a “huge concentration,” so this grant focuses more on businesses with few employees and/or just a sole proprietor. That means businesses that are run out of people’s homes are eligible.

“We kind of looked at what areas we haven’t touched,” she said.

The Workplace Safety Grant will provide up to $10 million for small business reimbursement for personal protective equipment and technology. Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are allowed to submit up to $20,000 in receipts in both categories.

Reimbursable items include hand sanitizer, plexiglass, face shields, masks, mobile devices, laptops and tablets, and software for remote meetings, such as Zoom or Webex.

Rad said the application and affidavit provided by companies will prevent businesses from potentially “double dipping” into extra funds. Businesses can submit receipts through Sept. 30.

The Online Business Connect Program provides up to $5 million to help local small businesses get online. Businesses will receive up to $10,000 in issued vouchers to customer-facing businesses that require online functionality due to social distancing restrictions.

Rad said such businesses include those that cut their marketing budgets or were forced to delve into more of an e-commerce or online contact list. Business sectors that fit this mold are restaurants, retailers, gyms, spas and salons — “anyone that has a customer base of business,” she noted.

Rad said some businesses have done a “phenomenal job” transforming face-to-face business to an online platform, while others lack that internet presence that allows them to thrive. She used the example of restaurants not having adequate websites to post updated menus for curb-side pickups or carry-outs.

Businesses will be provided with a vendor list for provided services. However, businesses that qualify have the responsibility to vet the vendors and hire experts on their own. They could, for example, help enhance websites or social media presence, or spend money on Google Ads for search engine optimization.

Submissions will be accepted through Sept. 30, or when funds are exhausted. Work performed must be under contractual obligation through vetted vendors and completed by Nov. 30.

Rad said that, with many people working remotely these days, office vacancy rates have increased. It is a concern for hands-on jobs, though she said it was an opportunity for companies to explore automation and robotics — to see what skill sets are required and how new technology can be utilized.

A workforce is still plenty needed at this time, especially in one major field.

“We’re still seeing a great number of expansions happening, as well as businesses locating to Macomb County, more on the manufacturing front,” she said. “That hasn’t slowed down for us.”

In October, the county plans to again evaluate the situation and perhaps roll out additional programs. For more information on grant programs, visit business.macombgov.org.

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