Courtesy of shop Old Town General Store in Lansing
Courtesy of shop

Michigan businesses closed at an unprecedented rate during the start of the pandemic. Those that survived, or recently opened, now will recover some of their losses.

Need to Know

  • Hundreds of millions of dollars are available for Michigan businesses that lost revenue because of the pandemic.
  • To qualify for grants, businesses must have opened by June 2020 and still have a physical presence in the state.
  • Applications open March 1 and close March 31 for eligible businesses. 

MICHIGAN—Small businesses in Michigan that have survived the pandemic are being thrown a line of major financial relief. 

A new state program, passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, will reimburse locally owned businesses for profits that they would have made if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, Michigan’s resilient, innovative small businesses need support, and we should keep having their backs as they work to expand operations and create more jobs,” Whitmer said. 

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Businesses that The ‘Gander has spoken with in previous reporting have stated they’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars a month in potential revenue when the pandemic forced them to scale back operations or close entirely in 2020. 

A nationwide study found that small businesses’ revenues dropped by more than 50% during the start of the pandemic. 

“We’re eating the financial cost of a lot of these COVID shutdowns,” Rick Howard, owner of Grace Christian Learning Center, told The ‘Gander in a January 2022 interview.

Under the grant program, businesses that lost more than 5% of their income from 2019 to 2020 can receive a refund for a percentage of the in-state sales they lost, up to $5 million. To be eligible for reimbursement, businesses must have a physical presence in Michigan and still be in operation.

Funded by the federal American Rescue Plan, the program has hundreds of millions of dollars ready for distribution. Businesses that opened during the early months of the coronavirus outbreak also qualify under special conditions to reimburse them for up to 25% of their costs.

In 2020, the pandemic at least temporarily closed 32% of Michigan businesses—the highest rate in the country—at the same time that 90% of the nation’s top companies turned a profit. Locally owned, in-person services, like restaurants, gyms, and concert venues, were the hardest-hit.

“Treasury is committed to ensuring these payments are received by eligible businesses,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said.

Applications for the Afflicted Business Relief Program open March 1 and will remain open until the end of the month. Grant amounts will not be determined until all applications are received.

Details on how to apply can be found at michigan.gov/abr or here. The state will have an informational webinar on March 7 from 1-2 p.m. ET.

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