Home » News from the Chamber » Lakeshore Advantage Awards $1.8M to 187 Small Businesses

Lakeshore Advantage Awards $1.8M to 187 Small Businesses

Lakeshore Advantage, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and regional partners, awarded $1,828,750 to 187 small businesses in Allegan and Ottawa counties through the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program. Grant awards ranged from $2,385-$20,000.

“The vibrancy of our lakeshore communities is closely tied to the viability of our beloved small businesses,” said Holly Johnson, president of the Frey Foundation and chair of the Lakeshore Advantage Survival Grant Review Committee.  “Financial lifelines like the Michigan Small Business Survival Grants are so important because the funding ensures local restaurants, exercise facilities, and recreational venues that serve residents and visitors alike have a chance to rebound despite the significant challenges related to COVID-19 over the past year.”

The Lakeshore Advantage Survival Grant Review Committee consisted of local chambers of commerce leaders and other business and community leaders. The review process and scoring system approved by the review committee allowed for 32% of applicants in Allegan and Ottawa counties to receive funding.  Demand for funding far exceeded available funds.  Lakeshore Advantage received 585 grant applications with a total monetary request of $9 million.

Members of the Lakeshore Advantage Survival Grant Review Committee are:

“The Michigan Small Business Survival Program is providing significant support to small businesses helping to get them through this critical time and on the path to economic recovery,” said Josh Hundt, chief business development officer and executive vice president at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  “We are thankful for the efforts of Lakeshore Advantage, who worked swiftly and diligently to deliver these vital financial resources within their region and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses in Michigan.”

The State of Michigan allocated $55 million to implement the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program to support the needs of Michigan businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus and the Gatherings and Mask order.  Lakeshore Advantage administered $1.925 million of that funding for eligible businesses in Allegan and Ottawa counties.  Funds were distributed by Lakeshore Advantage directly to the grantees. As administrator of the Survival Grant locally, Lakeshore Advantage was able to retain five percent of the $1.925 million, or $96,250. A portion of this administration fee was shared equally among strategic partners who assisted in the review process.

Applicants applied for the grant program through one universal application administered by Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  More information about the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program and how it was administered by Lakeshore Advantage in Allegan and Ottawa counties, including a list of grant recipients, is available at https://www.lakeshoreadvantage.com/covid-19/survival_grant.

Survival Grantee Quotes and Testimonials – Photos available HERE.
“Day one of our six month shutdown, we went into action-mode and pivoted to online and outdoor, working long hours creating what felt like a new business overnight. Despite our ability to roll it out, we still lost a percentage of revenue that had taken us 2-3 years to build.  The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant has given our business a breath of relief at just the right time.  We’ll be able to apply the grant money to the cost of operations so we can keep providing the level of services and care our incredible members deserve.  Thank you, Lakeshore Advantage!”
– Jessica Luepke, Founder & Co-Owner, Valeo Training, Holland

“Our main business is Hibachi grill and sushi. From May-Oct we have been take-out only for the safety of our employees and customers.  As a local small business, we are struggling hard to survive from the Pandemic.  The Survival grant will help to keep our employees.  We are very thankful for our customers’ support throughout COVID-19 with take-out orders and now limited in-person dining.”
-Jay Zheng, Owner of the Wild Chef Steakhouse, Holland

“The grant came a perfect time, with the harsh winter months.  We don’t have the availability to have a heated patio not only because of cost, but we are a destination place.  Our community has been a huge support during this unprecedented time, not to mention their flexibility to work with us if we run out of products.  We can’t thank everyone enough.  The grant will help us get through these winter months until we can have our patio back.”
-Pedro Montes Co-Owner, Havana Grill, Holland

Thank you so much for choosing our restaurant in receiving one of the survival grants.  We are aware that many businesses applied for this grant and only a small percent were able to receive them.  It will come at a very good time in helping us re-open our inside dining – this has been a very trying time for all restaurants in Michigan and around the United States in general.  We feel that Michigan is making its way through the pandemic and will have a bright future ahead.”
-Bruce Bellgraph, CPA and agent for Salvino’s Pizzeria, Plainwell

“We truly appreciate the grant we received to support our business. Restaurants have struggled greatly during this shutdown and we definitely have been impacted by not being able to serve our guests.  This grant money will help us re-open and serve our community as well as bring back our employees who are eager to return to work and begin earning money.  We look forward to seeing our guests and serving the community again.”
– Josh Beckett, Anna’s House CEO, Holland and Grand Haven

“The Café at City on a Hill is a welcoming place that feeds both body and soul for staff and clients of the 38 ministries at work here. Closing and restricting service during COVID cast a shadow through our whole building.  This grant fills a big gap in the non-profit Café’s budget and ensures that going forward, the Café can again be a bright place of food and fellowship.”
– Gary Ellens, Director, City on a Hill, Zeeland

“Minnie’s Restaurant appreciates being selected for this grant by Lakeshore Advantage so much!  The recent shutdowns pushed us to make quick changes to continue operations.  To say this has been a struggle would be an understatement.  During the recent shutdown, Minnie’s offered to-go food and desserts Monday through Friday for breakfast and lunch.  In December, annually, Allegan offers later shopping and dining hours downtown for Festive Fridays.  We jumped on board and stayed open late, offering a $6 burger and fries deal!  The community was amazingly supportive.

Adjustments were made, and our closed dine-in time was used wisely by painting, adding new decor, and a fresh set of photos generously provided by Craig Gardiner Photography.  This grant provided by Lakeshore Advantage will provide the ability to continue being a local favorite spot here in Allegan, and gives us the opportunity to continue offering longer hours of operation.  Minnie’s Restaurant employs 10 local residents.  This grant ensures we keep all of our staff employed, and for that, every one of us here at Minnie’s is grateful to Lakeshore Advantage for this amazing opportunity.  It’s a relief knowing our community has our back, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue serving the Allegan area!”
– Kara Jones, Minnie’s Restaurant, Allegan

“Champion Gymnastics USA is very grateful for this MEDC grant. It comes at a time when we continue to struggle financially having been closed for extended periods or open at 25% capacity. We had to be very creative for our competitive team members with Zoom conditioning and out-of-state travel for training.  We are finally able to open to serve small numbers of recreational students.  All of these are young community members who have severely missed the sport that they love.

We obviously have lots of bills to catch up on from rent to utilities to payroll, equipment, and facility needs.  Additionally, we are striving to maintain as much staff as possible.  We have lost staff, many of whom had been with us for years due to prolonged closures. We have been providing gymnastics instruction for all levels of students since the late ’80s.  We will survive this pandemic, but our path has been difficult.  Safety for all participants and staff has been our top priority.”
– Cathy Thompson, Owner and President, Champion Gymnastics USA, Holland

About Lakeshore Advantage
Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit local economic development organization started in 2003 by forward-focused business and community leaders to ensure current and future generations want to live and work in our vibrant economy.  Lakeshore Advantage assists primary employers, from startups to large world-class corporations, in West Michigan’s Allegan and Ottawa counties.

In 2020, Lakeshore Advantage supported 14 business growth projects, resulting in $152 million in private investment and 652 new jobs.  We assisted 395 primary employers in 2020, which is double our typical support due to the increased need caused by the global pandemic.  In addition, we supported 63 startup companies and administered two small business grant programs that injected $3.625 million into the local economy.  More at www.lakeshoreadvantage.com.

 – member submission, Lakeshore Advantage

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