Last week, organizations in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula were awarded funding to create up to 645 jobs and 300 businesses by supporting early-stage entrepreneurs. On August 4th, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the 43 winners of the $125 million American Rescue Plan-funded Capital Readiness Program (CRP) awards competition, which included Northern Initiatives and Start Garden. The Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration supported Northern Initiatives and Smart Garden’s application with a letter to the federal government.
“Small businesses are anchors of communities across the state, and the work that Northern Initiatives and Start Garden do every day helps them ‘make it’ in Michigan,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today’s investment will build on their efforts to reach underserved communities and businesses, creating jobs and making cities and towns across the state better places to live, work, and invest. Our hardworking, innovative entrepreneurs and small business owners have helped Michigan become a top ten state for doing business in 2023, and we must work together to connect Michiganders with the funding and training they need to build brighter futures right here in Michigan.”
The Northern Initiatives, based out of Marquette, is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that delivers loans and business services to small business owners and entrepreneurs of Northern Michigan who create jobs and empower their communities to thrive.
“For thirty years Northern Initiatives has prioritized supporting minority, women, and veteran owned businesses by providing small business loans and technical assistance, said Elissa Sangalli, president and CEO of Northern Initiatives. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to deepen our impact and to knock down barriers.”
“I applaud this excellent investment in the U.P.’s entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said state Representative Jenn Hill (D-Marquette). “Northern Initiatives has seen tremendous growth over the years, going from a small organization operating in Marquette to a region-wide powerhouse of economic development. That growth is a testament to their great work, and this grant will build on that momentum.”
Start Garden, based in downtown Grand Rapids, empowers West Michigan’s startup ecosystem through financial, intellectual & social capital, while providing a neighborhood for startups to grow.
“This exciting $3 million federal investment recognizes the valuable impact Start Garden has had on the local business community,” said state Representative Carol Glanville (D-Walker). “It will enable them to expand their programming to support an additional 300 new businesses with the social, financial, and intellectual capital needed as they move from idea to launch, creating a projected 645 new jobs by 2027. Our thriving local business community will continue to grow with the help of this investment in early-stage entrepreneurs.”
Northern Initiatives and Start Garden received $3 million from the CRP to create an efficient process that will connect entrepreneurs in Michigan, particularly West Michigan, with resources, assistance, and capital. The process will help support businesses from an idea, to launch, and to capital for growth. The project hopes to enroll 400 early-stage entrepreneurs over four years, with a goal of creating 300 businesses and 645 new jobs.
The Capital Readiness Program provides critical funding to incubators and accelerators across the country, with expertise to assist and train minority and other underserved entrepreneurs seeking resources, tools, and technical assistance to start or scale their businesses in high-growth industries such as healthcare, climate resilient technology, asset management, infrastructure, and more.
The Capital Readiness Program is administered by the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). MBDA is the only federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting minority-owned businesses, enterprises, and entrepreneurs and helping them overcome the barriers to economic success that many women and minority communities face.
Empowering Small Businesses
Governor Whitmer is committed to supporting small businesses as Michigan continues growing its economy.
- Last month, Governor Whitmer signed the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which included $15 million for talent action teams to fast-track assistance to businesses looking to expand or locate in Michigan.
- Earlier this year, Governor Whitmer signed a bipartisan supplemental budget investing $75 million to support small business smart zones, business accelerators, and entrepreneurial activities.
- In 2021, Governor Whitmer launched MI New Economy, a $2.1 billion plan to grow Michigan’s middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities.
- In 2019, Governor Whitmer signed an executive directive to increase state procurement and contracts with small and geographically disadvantaged businesses.
- The administration has funded programs like Reconnect, Futures for Frontliners, and Michigan Opportunity Scholarship to provide hundreds of thousands of Michiganders tuition-free higher education or skills training that leads to a high-skill, good-paying job.
Another Strong Jobs Report
As a result of strong economic policy, Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 3.6% in June, the lowest rate in 23 years. The state’s labor force participation rate continued increasing, the labor force grew by 23,000, and the economy added 76,000 jobs year over year. Michigan’s labor force has increased by 85,000 in the first half of 2023, the most ever for the first six months of a year since the data series began in the 1970s.