Gov. Whitmer Awards Funding to 41 Small Businesses in 28 Communities to Support 228 Jobs and Grow Michigan’s Economy

Thursday, December 16, 2021

LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer today announced that 28 communities across Michigan have been awarded a total of $1,011,057 in grants aimed at supporting small local businesses to create resiliency and strengthen downtowns through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Match on Main grant program, ensuring that the state continues its strong job growth after adding 67,000 jobs in the last three months.

“The Match on Main grants are helping us put small businesses first and build on the 145,000 jobs we added last year by continuing to invest in our communities and main streets across the state,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I am so grateful to our hardworking, innovative small business owners who form the backbone of our economy, create jobs, and help countless local communities thrive. We will continue investing in them as we usher in a new era of economic prosperity for Michigan.”

“Thriving small businesses are what make Michigan’s downtowns unique and authentic while helping to create economic opportunity across the state,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “These Match on Main grants will help local businesses find new paths to growth and create and retain jobs, while further developing vibrant, unique, and attractive places where people want to live, work, and play.”

MEDC’s Match on Main program provides funding to communities that participate as a select and master level community in the Michigan Main Street program or are a Certified Redevelopment Ready community. The communities, who receive the grant funding from the MEDC, in turn award grants of up to $25,000 to eligible businesses seeking support.

The grants are expected to create or retain 75 full-time and 153 part-time jobs, and the projects are expected to generate a total private investment of more than $1.7 million.

The Match on Main grants may be used by the business for eligible expenses that support technical assistance, interior building renovations, permanent or semi-permanent activation of an outdoor space, permanent or semi-permanent business infrastructure related to COVID-19 recovery efforts, and other working capital needs such as marketing needs and inventory expenses. Additional needs identified by the business and supported by the local community are also considered.

The Albion Economic Development Corporation will use its $25,000 to assist with the expansion of Yellow Bird Chocolate Shop, a purveyor of artisanal chocolates in downtown Albion. With the help of the funds, Yellow Bird will expand its manufacturing capacity by scaling up machinery and commercial kitchen appliances, as well as further developing online sales capabilities and consumer education through its popular tasting experiences.

“We are truly honored to receive Michigan's Match on Main reimbursement grant opportunity for expanding Yellow Bird Chocolate Shop in downtown Albion. This reimbursement grant means two things to us: first, it will help us meet the local and regional demand for more craft chocolate and artisanal confections; and second, it is an indicator that the State of Michigan is supportive of the efforts and creative development happening in downtown Albion,” said Jenny Risner-Wade, owner of Yellow Bird Chocolate Shop. “We are so grateful for the encouragement and guidance of our local economic development corporation, the city of Albion, the Albion Downtown Development Authority and the Dream.Build.Rise.Albion program. Thank you!”

The city of Alpena was awarded $25,000 to support Fresh Palate, an eatery in downtown Alpena focused on providing healthy, organic, fresh meals in an energetic, earth-conscious, friendly, comfortable environment. The restaurant will use the funds to completely renovate an underutilized property in downtown Alpena into a trendy retail space with a bar. It will help to expand the downtown’s newly established social district.

“I can’t thank the MEDC enough for the Match on Main grant award! This gives me hope that the future economy of our downtown community is staying strong and in fact thriving in this uncertain time in history,” said Eric Peterson, owner of Fresh Palate. “A grant of this size makes me feel comfortable that I can complete my expansion project without stressing the whole time over money. A thriving downtown community brings vibrancy and sustainability to a thriving local economy. Business owners really have to put themselves out there and help from someone like the MEDC goes a long way.”

“We are thrilled to have two projects in Downtown Alpena selected for support through the Match on Main grant program. Both projects will allow our small businesses to grow and expand-- and help our downtown thrive as a year-round destination as well,” said Alpena Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Anne Gentry. “The addition of igloos at Hopside Brewery will allow visitors to dine outside year-round, even throughout the winter months. The new bar and food truck court by the Fresh Palate will activate a vacant building and parking lot into a vibrant new food experience downtown. We appreciate the MEDC's support to move these projects forward and help Downtown Alpena grow.”

December 2021 Match on Main grant winners:

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In March 2021, MEDC announced that 17 communities around Michigan were awarded a total of $500,743 in grants aimed at supporting small local businesses to create resiliency and strengthen downtowns around Michigan. A total of 21 small businesses around Michigan received assistance through the program.

Michigan’s small businesses are a vital part of the state’s economy, employing more than 1.8 million people. Helping businesses to open and grow is a key focus of MEDC, and the Match on Main Street program is one of MEDC’s tools that provides opportunities for new and expanding businesses located in Main Street districts to grow and succeed. For more information on the program, visit here. To learn more about MEDC’s services for Michigan businesses, visit here.

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.