Nearly 700 small businesses across Michigan awarded grants through MEDC’s Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Businesses statewide receive $10 million in grants to assist with impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

LANSING, Mich. – 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 today. 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.

“I am proud of this initiative to support hundreds of small businesses as we work together to continue rebuilding Michigan’s economy,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “To keep us on the road to recovery, we must also pass the MI COVID Recovery Plan, which fully allocates over $5 billion in federal funds already sent to Michigan. It includes $225 million to directly help small businesses, $90 million to ramp up vaccinations, and $575 million to greatly expand testing, tracing, and lab capacity, all essential investments we need to return to normalcy.”

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.

“The Foundation believes that no one should be left behind in our communities,” Johnson said. “Community wealth building is about enhancing the human experience for everyone, which includes working to ensure Michiganders have social and economic security. This grant helped small businesses retain jobs by supporting more than 650 businesses and their employees from all corners of the state. We are proud to be part of this initiative and recognize that our work is not done. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the state and other allies to deepen and expand efforts to create access to community wealth building opportunities.”

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.

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. “I don't think most people will ever know the sacrifices that have been made by those in the restaurant industry just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. This means everything. Thank you!”

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. For the full list of grant recipients, visit here.

“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

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.