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Heard on MichMash

Michigan Small Businesses Reel From COVID-19. Here’s Who Is Helping.

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Image credit: Laura Herberg/WDET

Businesses across Michigan have been suffering due to consumers and event-goers staying home to avoid COVID-19. But there are organizations trying to help.

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Michigan is closed for business, thank you very much. 

 “Our goal is to provide as much runway to these businesses as possible until the cavalry arrives.” — Ned Staebler, TechTown

Between an order by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to close non-essential businesses and social distancing measures being taken, businesses across the state are closing their doors and hoping they’ll be able to open them again when the coronavirus pandemic is over.

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Knockout Punch

The latest hit is the cancellation of the 2020 North American International Auto Show in Detroit that was originally scheduled for June at the TCF Center, formerly known as Cobo Center. It’s a huge event that brings in people from all over the world, people that local businesses rely on to patronize their shops.

Not only are businesses closing now because of COVID-19, but events that many businesses depend on for revenue are being canceled.

The center will be used for at least six months as a temporary hospital as health officials continue to battle the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

On the west side of the state, the Tulip Time Festival in Holland has also been canceled due to coronavirus. The nine-day event brings in tens of millions of dollars to the small city of Holland, and businesses in the area are already bracing for the one-two punch of coronavirus and then the cancellation of the festival.

Not only are businesses closing now because of COVID-19, but events that many businesses depend on for revenue, in some cases to keep them open for the year, are being canceled.

The Cavalry

But that doesn’t mean they are alone in their struggles. The federal and state government as well as local organizations are trying to pitch in to help businesses weather the pandemic.

TechTown Detroit is raising $250,000 to help local businesses through this crisis as part of their Small Business Stabilization Fund, which includes grants up to $5,000 for brick and mortar businesses with 10 employees or less.

Ned Staebler, the president and CEO of TechTown, said that Detroit small businesses had optimistic hopes for the city until this crisis.

It does feel like we were starting to turn a corner and this is obviously going to throw a wrench in that,” he said. “Our goal is to provide as much runway to these businesses as possible until the cavalry arrives.”

The state is also pitching in. The Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $20 million economic relief program meant to help struggling small businesses make payroll and cover their bills during the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

There is also a massive $2 trillion federal stimulus package, the effects of which are a long way from becoming apparent.

But while there is a lot of help coming in, we’re still a long way away from getting these businesses back on track.

Jake Neher, Producer, Detroit Today

Jake Neher is a producer and reporter for Detroit Today. He has formerly reported on the Michigan legislature.

Jake.Neher@wdet.org Follow @GJNeher

Cheyna Roth, Reporter

Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She’s also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.

CRoth@mlive.com Follow @Cheyna_R


This post is a part of MichMash.

Each week, WDET's Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio's Cheyna Roth un-jumble Michigan issues and talk about how statewide news stories affect you. 

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