FLINT, Mich. – Today, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II toured Genusee in Flint following remarks at the Flint regional Small Business Summit, which brought together small business owners, advocates, support organizations and lenders from Flint and across Genesee County as part of a statewide effort to inform a comprehensive strategy for small business investment in Michigan.
“As we continue Michigan's economic jumpstart, it’s critical that we make investments in people, infrastructure, and in the future of entrepreneurs all across our state,” said Lt. Gov. Gilchrist. “Through the pandemic, our small businesses and the people who work in them have faced unique, unprecedented challenges. Now, it is our responsibility to focus our attention and resources on creating economic opportunities for businesses of all sizes and delivering meaningful change that makes a real difference in people’s lives and economic wellbeing right now.”
Today’s summit in Flint is part of the Governor’s MI Small Business Summer tour meant to inform a comprehensive strategy for small business investment in Michigan. The summit builds off the administration’s announcement last week to invest $2.1 billion in federal relief funding to grow Michigan’s middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities by tackling several underlying issues.
With additional state revenues expected following this year’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference and incoming federal funding that includes nearly $6.5 billion in flexible funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), $176 million in federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funds, and $1.4 billion in federal child care funding Michigan is in a strong position to make the investments that can transform the landscape for small businesses and help both residents and businesses recover from the pandemic.
"After the challenges and setbacks small businesses and the workforce faced during the pandemic, these conversations are just the beginning to address the unique needs of employers in Genesee County and throughout the state," said Susan Corbin, director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. "I look forward to participating, actively listening and strategizing with our business partners, local officials, community organizations and lenders in future events this summer. By working together and bringing a diverse set a voices around the table, we can continue to jumpstart the economy and get Michigan back to work."
The vast majority of businesses have fewer than 10 employees, resulting in a significant impact of small businesses that is felt throughout the state. Additionally, a recent survey conducted by New Economy Initiative found 86 percent of microbusinesses, or those with less than 10 employees, reported being negatively impacted by the pandemic and 77 percent stated capital was their most significant need.
“Small businesses play a vital role in attracting talent to live and work in here in the state, and our businesses and workers deserve policies, programs and creative problem-solving that will help them thrive in Flint and across the state,” said Quentin Messer, Jr., CEO of the MEDC. “We are committed to working alongside our local and regional partners and members of the Legislature to put these federal dollars to work to ensure the future is brighter for risking-taking business owners and their employees here in Michigan.”
“Small businesses, specifically micro-small businesses owned by women and POC, are the fabric of communities. When you shop from small businesses in your community there is a ripple effect in the lives of people you and improves the lives of people you see every day,” said Ali Rose van Overbeke, founder of Genusee. “The majority of Genusee's supply chain is within 188 mile radius of Flint. There is something really special and unique about knowing the people in your supply chain face to face and interacting with them on a daily basis. We're really grateful that we were able to survive the pandemic and also support our local suppliers and manufacturing partners here in Flint and the state of Michigan.”
To support small businesses and create better jobs, the administration is building on its $300 million Michigan Mainstreet Initiative proposal, which would offer grants to restaurants, place-based businesses, and microenterprises with further dollars to attract more start-ups. Last week, the Governor outlined a $200 million investment to create a more conducive business environment for high-tech, high-growth start-ups and create jobs of the future in Michigan. The Governor also put forward $100 million to prepare manufacturers and the workforce for opportunities of the future and proposed an $11 million investment into the STEM Forward program, which places STEM students in internships in Michigan and improves talent attraction and retention.
Support for small businesses represents a key component of the administration’s Economic Jumpstart Plan, as this summer Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist sent a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration urging it to consider alternative resources to support restaurants with minority, women and veteran owners following the court rulings in Texas and Tennessee around the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. These small businesses, especially, were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, and are a vital part of Michigan’s economic jumpstart moving forward.
“Over the last nine years, Flint SOUP has been blessed to be part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem emerging in Flint. With support and active participation from residents, foundations, city leaders, and community stakeholders—we have joined together to empower and equip a new generation of small business leaders who are transforming our region, and who add to the flourishing of our cities,” said Adrian Montague and James Shuttleworth of Flint SOUP.
For more information on the small business summits and support for small businesses visit www.michigan.gov/smallbusiness.
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 www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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