Community Foundation directs dollars to small businesses through resiliency program


Small businesses make up a vital part of the fabric of our community here in Emmet County. Thanks to a partnership with Venture North, the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation is offering a new source of financial support for these businesses through the Regional Resiliency Program (RRP). We are investing a total of $60,000 in the program, which will be awarded to Emmet County businesses with nine or fewer employees that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have committed $50,000 to the fund and have recently received an additional $10,000 in support from Frey Foundation.

PHSACF-Regional-Resiliency-Program-300x200.jpgThe RRP is a new initiative administered by Traverse City-based Venture North Funding and Development. The program began in May 2020 with a $200,000 award from the Consumers Energy Foundation, originally established to help small businesses in Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. Since then, the program secured additional funding and has made 140 grants totaling approximately $400,000 with no grant exceeding $5,000. The RRP has expanded to include Antrim and Manistee counties and now, Emmet County as well.

“Our entire community has been hit hard by the pandemic,” said David (DJ) Jones, our executive director. “While we’ve worked to provide financial support to our partner nonprofits, the Community Foundation has also been looking for ways to support our small business community. These small businesses employ our friends and neighbors. They are the small mom and pop shops as well as the burgeoning entrepreneurs, and their success makes our community stronger. Partnering with Venture North and the Regional Resiliency Program offered a turn-key way for us to help.”

“Congratulations to the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation for launching Emmet County’s participation in the program,” said Laura Galbraith, Executive Director of Venture North. “Because of an additional grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation to administer the program, it is being provided at no additional cost to participating communities.”

The grant deadline has now passed. Emmet County employers with nine or fewer employees that have been impacted by COVID-19 have until 5 pm, Friday, November 20, 2020, to submit grant applications. Funds have been used by grantees for a variety of needs, ranging from new online sales programs that support resiliency to purchases of personal protective equipment, inventories and advertising and much more.

The grant application takes about 30 minutes to complete. A team of local representatives will review the applications and recommend funding in making grants. Grants arrive as a direct deposit into the bank account of awardees. Questions from applicants may be directed to Betsy Evans at [email protected] or 231-383-2798.

“We are honored to partner with the Community Foundation and all donors to the program and to see first hand how these relatively small grants make big changes in the sustainability and resiliency of small businesses,” Galbraith said. “Working together with funders and small businesses is important now more than ever. We are focused on the priorities and needs of small businesses and welcome them to apply for the funds they need to adapt and survive these trying economic times. If Congress extends the Paycheck Protection Program, we look forward to helping these small businesses avail themselves of those resources as well.”

Galbraith and Jones encouraged foundations, corporations and individuals to consider contributing to the program. Donations can be made online or by calling Venture North at 231-357-6776.

Venture North Funding and Development is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that specializes in supporting economic growth and jobs by making capital available to small businesses. Venture North also administers the Regional Resiliency Program that provides grants of up to $5,000 to northwest Michigan businesses with nine or fewer employees.