Gov. Whitmer Announces U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $3.4 Million to Support Entrepreneurs and Economic Diversification Efforts in St. Clair County, Michigan

Governor's Office

Monday, August 30, 2021

LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo to announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3.4 million grant to the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, Port Huron, Michigan, to construct an 11,000-square-foot building for use as a small business incubator that will support emerging and second-stage businesses in the Thumb. This EDA grant, to be matched with $743,421 in local funds and $101,680 in state funds, is expected to help create 125 jobs and generate $2 million in private investment.

“I am grateful to our federal partners for investing in Michigan’s economy to create good-paying jobs in St. Clair County,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “As we continue our economic jumpstart, we are laser-focused on investing in our families, communities, and small businesses to foster growth and recovery in all regions of our state. Today’s actions will utilize federal, local, state, and private funds to create good-paying jobs and grow emerging businesses in the Thumb, helping us usher in a new era of prosperity for Michigan.”

The grant was supported through an MEDC initiative to leverage Community Development Block Grant funds provided through the CARES Act to provide a portion of the required project match, up to $250,000 per project, for eligible organizations applying for EDA grants.

“MEDC was proud to support St. Clair County efforts to leverage critical federal dollars through the U.S. Economic Development Administration, ensuring the community is in a strong position not only recover from the effects of the pandemic, but also in a position to thrive long term,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Chair of the MSF Board. “Congratulations to the team at the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County on receiving this grant that will help our small business and entrepreneurs find success here in Michigan.”

“The Blue Water Area Chamber is excited to hear that the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County will be receiving this money to construct a 11,000 square foot building to support entrepreneurs and small businesses, said President & CEO Thelma Castillo. We are excited that our entrepreneurs and small business owners in our county will have access to additional resources to support their endeavors.”

"The EDA Business Center will be a central business hub in St. Clair County, Michigan for industry and entrepreneurs to convene, collaborate, train workforce, and plan for growth and development,” said Dan Casey, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County. "We are extremely grateful to the Economic Development Administration for investing in our vision of regional prosperity at a time when we are losing tax base and jobs from the closure of coal-fired power plants. This project will catalyze entrepreneurial vision with talent and investment, creating the next generation of business ventures and jobs in our area.”

“The EDA is a long-time community partner that we are excited to see leading this new project. We look forward to having more affordable spaces available to support our growing regional entrepreneurial network and the opportunities it will bring to collaborate on more small business and startup support,” said Community Foundation of St. Clair County Board Chair, Dr. Randa Jundi-Samman.

“The Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that communities get the resources they need to diversify and grow their economies,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment will allow The Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County to establish a new, permanent home for their small business incubator operations, including co-working spaces and advanced manufacturing equipment, that will help diversify the region’s economy and become stronger in the face of future economic disruptions.”

“This EDA project supports the area’s only business incubator and ensures that regional entrepreneurs have the resources they need to succeed,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “The new facility in St. Clair County will support entrepreneurship and lead to new and diverse career pathways in Michigan’s Thumb Region.”

This project is funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative, through which EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities severely impacted by the declining use of coal. ACC projects support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities. 

This award is a great example of what communities can do under EDA’s new American Rescue Plan programs; particularly the $300 million Coal Communities Commitment. This investment will ensure that coal communities have the resources they need to recover from the pandemic and will help create new jobs and opportunities, including through the development or expansion of a new industry sector.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration ( The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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.