PAW PAW — A second round of funding will soon be available to help small businesses in Van Buren and Cass counties negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Market Van Buren, an economic development organization serving Van Buren and Cass counties, is taking applications from businesses applying for funding through the Michigan Small Business Restart Program. Businesses need to act quickly, however. The deadline to be considered for grants is Aug. 5.

“Small businesses have borne the brunt of the assault of COVID-19, and the ReStart program is a great way to get some working capital, cover expenses like rent, staffing and other costs,” said Market Van Buren Executive Director Zach Morris.

Morris worked with the state to secure more than $100,000 of help local companies in an earlier grant program in April. The ReStart program, however, has substantially more resources than the earlier initiative.

Southwest Michigan will receive $7.5 million of the $100 million dollar state program, according to Morris. To be eligible, businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer employees located in Michigan must have the following:

  • Be part of an industry or nonprofit that can demonstrate it has been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency;
  • Need working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses and similar costs;
  • Demonstrate an income loss because of COVID-19 emergency as determined by the Michigan Strategic Fund.

In addition, at least 30 percent of the funds awarded under this program will be provided to women-owned, minority-owned, or veteran owned eligible businesses. The state projects more than 5,000 businesses across the state will benefit.

The maximum grant is capped at $20,000.

“We were able to work with the Legislature and other economic developers to change the rules and make companies that received funding the first time also eligible for this round as long as the amount does not exceed the $20 thousand dollar cap,” Morris explained. “We are ready to assist our area companies as this pandemic lingers and impacts small businesses. We project that one-third of our small businesses are teetering on the edge, and this could be the lifeline.”