Washtenaw County to Launch Small Business Growth Activator in January 2023

In January 2023, Washtenaw County will launch the Small Business Growth Activator Program to support the stabilization and expansion of small businesses in our community. This program will launch with up to $1 million dollars of Federal CARES Act funding, as approved by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and Washtenaw Urban County earlier in 2022. These funds will be designated to help small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 by providing $5,000 grants along with free business assistance. This program will be administered by the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED).

“The Small Business Growth Activator program has been designed by OCED staff to fill the gaps left by previous state and federal programs that struggled to reach smaller and underserved businesses and areas,” said Justin Hodge, Commissioner for District 5. “We know that small businesses in Washtenaw County have faced many challenges due to the cancellations, closures, social distancing, and economic hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been particularly true for low to moderate income businesses in our community that even prior to the pandemic were underserved and did not have the same access to resources and business support services.”

To support these businesses, the County is utilizing the CARES Act funding to partner with entrepreneurial and business support organizations to deliver business coaching and other business supports such as website design or accounting help.

A competitive call for proposals, resulted in 5 organizations being brought on as partners for the Small Business Growth Activator:

  • Proxie is offering a digital pivot to assist small business with e-commerce
  • Growing Hope is providing access to a food incubator, and business coaching
  • Association of Business of Color is providing a mastermind cohort and peer business coaching
  • Ann Arbor SPARK is providing business consulting, sales coaching and
  • Small Business Development Center – Business coaching, a mastermind cohort and one-on-one follow up

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This funding is estimated to help 80-100 microenterprises.

“We’re excited to help 80-100 small business owners who were left out of the PPP or other state/federal programs,” said Cheranissa Roach, Economic Opportunity Manager in the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development. “We have assembled a great group of old and new partners to reach businesses that may have felt unsupported during the pandemic and look forward to the impact this partnership will have in our community.

The program is open to small businesses who have 5 employees or less including the owner, have been in business since March 16, 2020, including those who may have closed and are hoping to reopen, located in the Washtenaw Urban County, and who’s owners have a household income at or below 80% of the Area Median Income.

Full details and a brief interest form can be found at https://www.washtenaw.org/3710/38797/Small-Business-Growth-Activator

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