‘Chance of a lifetime’ — Meridian encouraging business owners to take advantage of $409 million in state funding

MERIDIAN, Mich. (WILX) – $409 million. That’s how much state funding has been made available to businesses through the Afflicted Business Relief (ABR) grant, designed to help businesses affected by the pandemic.

The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law with the intention of helping the US as a whole counter the economic hardship brought on by the extended pandemic.

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The grant money is distributed in terms of what was lost to COVID-19. For example, an eligible business that leases business premises could be eligible for 17% of lease costs in 2020. More information on the grant can be found on the state’s website.

Now, the Meridian Township Economic Development Department is encouraging local business owners to apply for these funds.

“Business owners in Meridian have a chance of a lifetime due to the formation of this grant. Unlike the previous grants, the ABR program is not a first come first serve grant. The State of Michigan Treasury Department aims to help as many eligible businesses as possible,” said Neighborhoods & Economic Development Director Amber Clark. “Although the grant process doesn’t open until March 1, we suggest business owners begin reviewing the application and requirements now.”

A Small Business Needs Survey conducted in 2021 by township staff revealed that over 80% had suffered significant hardship due to COVID-19. In fact, some in the township closed their doors permanently that year.

“At this time last year we watched as COVID-19 numbers soared and additional shut down measures were taken. Our amazing local entrepreneurs still need help managing the day to day, staff and supply to remain in operation,” stated Kim Thompson, Chair of the Meridian Economic Development Corporation. “We’re heartened by this additional support available from the State of Michigan to support these businesses. We encourage all eligible businesses to apply and we hope this additional support can help them get through this challenging time.”

The ABR grant is opens from March 1 to 11:59 pm on March 31. The internal review process of the received applications will begin and may continue until May. The State Treasury Department says they intend to have all award amounts designated by June and payments out as early as July.

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