Gov. Whitmer's COVID Recovery Plan pledges to help businesses rebound

COLOMA, Mich. -- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announcing her COVID-19 Recovery Plan this week that will use $5.6 billion in federal funding – already allocated to Michigan – to expedite the vaccine rollout, get students back to in-person classes and provide three different opportunities for small businesses to get financial relief.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize the process that goes into getting these magical grants, I keep referring to them as magical because I might as well go and buy a lottery ticket and it would actually be less work,” said Taylor Prestidge, owner of Soulard’s Bakery & Café.

Prestidge said she’s tried to get grants to help her struggling business every time it’s been available, but the online application process has been a nightmare and has never resulted in any funding.

“I got on and my number was 15,306 and it said more than eight hours of waiting, and I think it was 3 a.m. when my number finally came up, and you only have a 20 minute window to get on and complete the application or else you have to start all over,” said Prestidge.

Gov. Whitmer’s latest plan aims to boost Michigan’s economy so it can start to rebound and experts say there are some promising goals in her proposal.

“A proposal to create an Office of Rural Development which will help communities like ours address issues like broadband access, with folks working remotely, they need access to good internet,” said Arthur Havlicek, President & CEO of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber. “There are also proposals for increased training programs which is key, considering how many Michiganders have dropped out of the workforce,” said Havlicek.

But it’s important to remember nothing’s set in stone.

“Ultimately it’s up to the legislature to appropriate the money and this entire proposal is predicated on the $5 billion in federal money that was given to Michigan,” said Havlicek.

And for these businesses – every minute of waiting is critical.

“That money she’s talking about now is needed now, the businesses don’t have time to wait,” said Prestidge. “The only way to really help restaurants survive is letting them open and make their own money, that’s what all of these places want to do.”

The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber can help any business owner with navigating grant processes, click here to contact them.

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