Local relief funds helping small businesses


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan business owners have become frustrated as they anxiously wait to hear back after applying for state and federal relief funds to survive an economic climate plagued by coronavirus. 

In the meantime, local relief funds are emerging as another resource to aid small business owners. 

This kind of much-needed relief could be seen on the faces of dozens of West Michigan entrepreneurs as Start Garden, an organization that supports local startups, notified them over video conference that their request for relief funding had been approved. 

“They’re trying to step up and fill this gap because they know the money has really been spread thin,” said Ed Garner, the West Michigan regional director for the Michigan Small Business Development Center.  

Garner said this kind of local funding could be a huge relief for small business owners as they wait for federal and state relief funding. 

“That money is being dispensed as quickly as possible, but still people are waiting to either hear back or to have that money hit their accounts,” Garners said. 

For those who haven’t applied, Garner said not to wait any longer.

“The biggest thing is to get in line,” he said. “There are so many people rushing to get into the programs that if you wait — the money may be gone, or you may be that far back in line.” 

Local business owner Don Schomisch at Aire-Master of Southwest Michigan has searched high and low for additional sources of relief, saying every dollar counts. 

“We started looking for what type of funds we could obtain from small business administration or local communities to keep our companies going,” Schomisch said. “(Spending) five to six hours a day, on Google, on the phone, applying to see where I can get money.” 

Once a business has funding secured, Garner said it’s important to spend it wisely. 

“Folks like us at the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and others are there to help them work out a spending plan once they know how much they’re going to get approved,” Garner said. “We can work on how to make sure they’re spending that money appropriately so that it’ll either be forgiven, so they don’t have to pay it back, or at the end of the day if they have a loan, it’ll be the smallest amount possible.”

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