Supporting Small Businesses and Local Communities | LIVESTREAM
Monday, December 12, 2022
Michigan's 900,000+ small businesses create jobs for Michigan's workforce, drive growth in local economies and play a key role in building vibrant communities.
MEDC’s Michele Wildman, Executive Vice President for Economic Development Incentives, and Amy Rencher, Senior Vice President of Small Business Services, joined Media and Communications Manager Otie McKinley to discuss resources available to Michigan small businesses, and how supporting locally-owned small businesses can have a BIG impact on Michigan communities.
Otie McKinley: How does the Michigan Economic Development Corporation define the “small” in small business? And how important are those small businesses to Michigan's economy?
Amy Rencher: A small business could be anything from the mom-and-pop business around the corner, to a freelancer, or any business with 10-99 employees. Small businesses are such an important part of our vibrant Michigan economy, creating beautiful downtowns, attracting and retaining talent, and driving real economic impact. The MEDC helps small businesses of various sizes across in all 83 Michigan counties.
McKinley: How important is it for these small businesses to draw in residents and visitors alike to downtown districts?
Michelle Wildman: Small businesses are the heart of our downtowns and neighborhood business districts. Whether it's a favorite restaurant or retail shop, or the business that's been servicing multiple generations of the same family, people develop a real connection to small businesses. The success of those small businesses has a positive and catalytic impact on the rest of the district and surrounding neighborhood. Main Street directors and DDA directors help harness that success, and draw visitors through events, festivals, restaurant weeks, and more.
McKinley: The events and festivals that bring people into the community are really an incredible feat to watch and be part of. And I'd be remiss if I didn’t plug michigan.org/support-local for more information about supporting small businesses around the state.
MEDC Supports Vibrant Communities
McKinley: Can you share some examples of how the MEDC helps these communities create vibrant spaces to attract people and new businesses to these downtowns?
Rencher: We have a wonderful program called Match on Main that provides up to $25,000 grants for placemaking activities that drive economic impact. We just announced $800,000 in awards to 35 communities across the state. The grants could help with anything from enabling a restaurant to establish outdoor dining, to helping a storefront create visual merchandising or packaging. We have another round of applications opening soon, so businesses should keep an eye out for that.
Wildman: The MEDC builds connections and support core business districts, Main Street communities, and Redevelopment Ready Communities. We enable expansions, startups, and provide technical assistance programming that helps create broad catalytic impact.
McKinley: Amy, what are some of the resources available at michiganbusiness.org/smallbusiness for these businesses across the state?
Rencher: In addition to the Match on Main grants we discussed earlier, Pure Michigan Business Connect helps businesses with connections and sales opportunities from major distributors and industries across the state. We have other programs, like a partnership with the Edward Lowe foundation that helps support second-stage businesses and more established companies grow to the next level. Entrepreneurs can find mentorship, roundtable opportunities, and market research assistance from the MEDC. One of our more unique and newer programs is the industry 4.0 initiative, which connects folks to upskilling training and grant opportunities for new equipment to help continue doing great work for years to come.
Supporting Local Throughout the Holiday Season
McKinley: What are some of your favorite ways to support those businesses during this holiday season?
Wildman: I love to find unique gifts for family members at small, locally-owned shops. I also think a gift card to a local restaurant is a wonderful way to share a meal and spend time with family members.
Rencher: There are so many ways to shop local, and the Michigan Retailers Association recently shared that for every $100 you spend at a small business, $68 of those dollars stay local. I would encourage folks to think about changing habits and start shopping from your farmers market, corner store, and local holiday markets. You can also support small businesses without spending money by leaving a positive review, interacting on social media, and sharing your experience with your network.
McKinley: It's worth a little extra effort to go out and support local businesses, shops and restaurants in the communities that we live in travel to. For more ideas on how you can support local businesses during the holiday season and throughout the year, visit michigan.org/support-local.
To contact a business development specialist, click here or call 1.888.522.0103.
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