Posted in News on September 29, 2020

68% of small business grant funding awarded to women, veteran or minority-owned small businesses 
9/29/2020 // ZEELAND, MICH –Lakeshore Advantage, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and regional partners, awarded $3.325 million to 428 small businesses and nonprofits in Allegan and Ottawa counties through the Michigan Small Business Restart grant program. Lakeshore Advantage received 887 grant applications with a total monetary request of nearly $9.3 million. Grants awarded ranged from $4,000-$20,000. 
“We are grateful to the MEDC and all of our state and federal leaders for making this funding a priority,” said Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage. “There are thousands of small businesses and nonprofits here on the lakeshore that are the heartbeat of our communities. While the demand is very high and there are limited funds, this grant provided hundreds of businesses with critical working capital needed to remain viable, to adapt and to thrive despite the challenges of this new COVID-19 reality.” 
In Allegan and Ottawa counties, 68% of the total funding for small businesses, or $2.08 million, was awarded to women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses who self-selected in the following categories: 
  • More than one category (women, minority, veteran-owned) = 13%
  • Women-owned businesses = 43%
  • Minority-owned businesses = 8%
  • Veteran-owned businesses = 4%
Our local pottery shop was hit hard by spring shutdowns brought on by COVID-19,” said Kerri deVries, owner of Paint a Pot in Holland, MI. “The Michigan Restart Grant is exactly what our company needed to jump-start our recovery. This funding will allow us to serve more customers by extending our hours, adding staff, and utilizing more space in our building – just in time for our busy holiday season.”
Applicants were vetted by reviewers from local chambers of commerce, community foundations and community partners such as Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, United Way and Women of Color GIVE. The criteria for grant awards was approved by a diverse review panel composed of major business leaders from employers including Gentex, Herman Miller and Haworth and former small business grantees. The review committee was chaired by Mike Ramirez, Orka Automation, with Holly Johnson, Frey Foundation, serving as co-chair. The process and scoring system approved by the review committee allowed for 48% of applicants in Allegan and Ottawa counties to receive funding.  
“Bravo Arts Academy needs to be the foundation for its students, to be something that makes sense when so much around them no longer is. Each artist finding a base within themselves that no matter what life may bring, they each have within them the ability to RESTART,” said Alison Peterson-Loll, owner of Bravo! Arts Academy in Allegan, MI. “On behalf of my current students and the students I dream will cross my path one day, thank you for this grant opportunity, a lifetime of reward and return guaranteed.”
The Michigan Strategic Fund, through the federal CARES Act and Michigan Economic Development Corporation, made available $100 million in grant funds to eligible small businesses and nonprofits in Michigan through the Michigan Small Business Restart Grant. Lakeshore Advantage administered $3.5 million of that funding for eligible businesses and nonprofits in Allegan and Ottawa counties. Funds are being distributed by Lakeshore Advantage directly to the grantees. For administering the grant, Lakeshore Advantage was able to retain and share among strategic partners of the Restart grant five percent of the $3.5 million, or $175,000. 
“The Michigan Small Business Restart Program is providing a significant opportunity to address immediate needs of small businesses and nonprofits as they work to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Mark A. Burton. “We are proud to work with our partners at Lakeshore Advantage to deliver these vital financial resources and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses in Allegan and Ottawa counties.”
Applicants applied for the grant program through one universal application administered by Michigan Economic Development Corporation. More information about the Michigan Small Business Restart Grant program and how it was administered by Lakeshore Advantage in Allegan and Ottawa Counties, including a list of grant recipients, is available at