Michigan Small Business Restart Program from LEO

In our related article, we explore the many small business grant programs that have benefitted Michigan small businesses in recent years, including ongoing state grant programs that are still accepting applications. Here, we’ll highlight the recent success of the Small Business Restart Program instituted by the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity, which provided $100 million in support across all 83 Michigan counties to stimulate COVID-19 pandemic recovery for small businesses throughout Michigan.

WFPH - November 2022 - Michigan Small Business Restart Program from LEO

Program Goals

The Michigan Small Business Restart Program was created to alleviate economic challenges faced by small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the program aimed to help Michigan small businesses “jumpstart” their reopening processes despite financial hardship and lost income during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program leveraged federal CARES Act funding to support grant-giving and required the collaboration of local and nonprofit economic development organizations (EDOs) across the state to succeed. 

As a major part of the program design, at least 30% of the funds were required to support woman-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned businesses. Recognizing that small businesses typically lack extensive capital support in the event of public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was centered on keeping local economies thriving and small businesses empowered to resume operations – post-governmental lockdowns – without lingering financial concerns or gaps in health and safety protections.

Collaboration and State-Wide Support

Coordinating efforts with the Michigan Strategic Fund, 15 local and nonprofit EDOs were selected and approved to offer grants of up to $20,000 to qualifying small businesses in their respective areas of Michigan. In sum, each EDO was granted at least $3.5 million in total funds, collectively providing financial support to businesses in all 83 counties in Michigan. 

To qualify for the restart grant, small businesses needed to meet the following criteria:

  • No more than 50 employees
  • A demonstrable need for working capital to cover rent, mortgage, utility, or payroll expenses (or similar qualifying expenses)
  • Demonstrable income loss resulting from COVID-19 pandemic
  • Conducting business within an industry or nonprofit impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic


Following a 20-day open submission period, the 15 selected EDOS thoroughly reviewed applications from businesses in their region and awarded grants that led to just some of the following outcomes:

  • More than 97,000 jobs were retained throughout the state of Michigan
  • Nearly 31,000 new jobs were created throughout the state of Michigan
  • Nearly 14,500 total businesses were supported by the program with county or regional grant amounts ranging from $3,320,000 to upwards of $14,763,768.

Regarding some of the program’s key equity objectives, over 6,000 of the nearly 14,500 total Michigan businesses awarded grants were either minority-owned, woman-owned, or veteran-owned. This means that – in total – the program exceeded it’s 30% requirement by more than 10%.

Read our related article, “David & Goliath: Why Small Businesses Exceed Expectations,” to learn more about how Michigan small businesses are collaborating to create vibrant local ecosystems that frequently outperform corporate competition in the areas of customer service, service/product quality, and more.

Partnering with Workforce PayHub to Support Your Small Business

Community is one of our central values. At Workforce PayHub, we’re invested in supporting small businesses, fostering entrepreneurial opportunities, and contributing to economic prosperity in all of the Michigan communities we serve. 

Are you a small business in Michigan looking for a workforce management solution that integrates payroll, timekeeping, HCM, HR, benefits administration, and more? Please contact us today for access to the tools, customer support, and expertise you deserve.

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Eric Jones
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