One-hundred forty-four local small businesses were awarded grants totaling $570,000 through the Restart Flint & Genesee Grant Program in order to assist in reopening after COVID-19.
Consumers Energy, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase partnered on the initiative to put funds in the hands of business owners.
“Small businesses are critical to the health of our local economy and we need to do what’s necessary to help as many as possible to stay open,” said Flint & Genesee Chamber CEO Tim Herman. “These grant dollars will help businesses cover expenses to meet the reopening requirements set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order.”
Business and community leaders in Flint and Genesee County took part in review committees that evaluated the applications and selected the recipients, however, two of the partners took a more hands-on approach to how funds were allocated.
Recognizing that African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Ruth Mott Foundation each designated the use of their funds — $350,000 in total — to assist Black-owned businesses in Flint. As a result, 75 Black-owned businesses were awarded grants, making up more than half of the total businesses receiving assistance.
Applicants represented a variety of industry sectors, but more than 50% were barbershops/salons (20.6%), retail (18.4%), and bars/restaurants (12.6%). Other businesses included construction, landscaping, and non-critical manufacturing.
The grants were conditional and businesses who accepted the funds were limited in their use to covering only expenses related to meeting guidelines and requirements for social distancing. Acceptable activities and purchases include, personal protection equipment (PPE), cleaning services to sterilize and deep clean facilities, cleaning supplies and physical improvements to facilities that create space for social distancing.
“Given the economic distress that small businesses in Flint and Genesee have suffered over the past three months, we knew that many would need help once it was time to reopen, particularly with expenses that would be incurred to safely bring back their employees and customers,” Herman said. “These grants should be helpful.”