Michigan Business Development Group Secures Government Support for Local Entrepreneurs

People First Economy Partners with the Center for Community Based Enterprise, Detroit Community Wealth Fund, and Michigan Center for Employee Ownership to Support Small Businesses to Access Funding

Business development organization, People First Economy (PFE), among eight additional statewide organizations, has received federal funding through the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) Technical Assistance grant program. The funding initiative announced by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II aims to increase businesses’ access to technical assistance and funding. PFE is partnering with three aligned organizations focused on worker ownership: the Center for Community Based Enterprise (C2BE), Detroit Community Wealth Fund (DCWF), and Michigan Center for Employee Ownership (MICEO) to facilitate connections between Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and 60 small businesses for loan readiness and management technical assistance.

According to the state of Michigan, the SSBCI Technical Assistance grant program began in 2021 when The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provided $200 million for federally allocated technical assistance funding. As a result of the 2021 Act, the U.S. Treasury awarded just over $5 million to the State of Michigan for the implementation of the SSBCI Technical Assistance Grant Program. The grant partners are using SSBCI Technical Assistance program grant funding to provide capital for small businesses, Very Small Businesses (businesses under 10 employees), and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals (SEDIs) looking to transition to employee ownership models by offering the following:

  • Helping business owners find and win capital
  • Increasing financial and business management skills
  • Providing support across the entire state

“There are thousands of small businesses across the state of Michigan that stand as the backbone of our economy, not merely by fostering sustainable economic growth but also by prioritizing the well-being of their workforce and the communities they serve,” said Carlos Martinez, President of People First Economy.  Martinez goes on to say, “At the heart of our mission lies the support for visionary business leaders who are adopting practices that enrich their workforce and community. Our collective endeavor, alongside our partners, aims to elevate models like cooperative employee ownership, Employee Ownership Trusts, and Employee Stock Ownership Plans. By empowering leaders with the necessary resources and capital, we are transforming the concept of a people-first economy from an ideal into a tangible reality.”

The SSBCI Loan Application program aligns with the state’s priority to support small businesses and  nurture the growth of Michigan’s middle class, as outlined in Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI New Economy plan. By offering guidance on business development such as legal advice, mentorship, or access to specialized funding, the partnership through the SSBCI Technical Assistance grant program provides businesses with tools to identify the employee ownership model that best suits their needs.  PFE, C2BE, DCWF, and MICEO are committed to implementing the following process fit for a thriving and equitable economy:

  • PFE is bringing businesses into the fold of support and acting as a bridge to the resources of its partner organizations.
  • DCWF offers transition financing for small businesses considering worker-ownership as a growth or exit strategy.
  • C2BE helps both start-ups and legacy businesses by reviewing and assessing business plans, providing feasibility studies, determining business value, and providing training in all aspects of the transition to worker-ownership.
  • MICEO acts as a hub of resources for business owners seeking information and resources on employee ownership.
  • All partner organizations will act as a pathway of support for interested businesses.

“We are excited to be entering into this dynamic partnership that can address a range of needs, and to focus on supporting small and minority owned businesses, and help increase access for support for succession planning, ownership conversions, and funding” said Margo Dalal, Executive Director, DCWF. “The state of Michigan has reached a new milestone supporting employee ownership in tandem with loan readiness, providing a broader set of tools for business owners” notes Karen Tyler-Ruiz, Executive Director, C2BE.

The grant collective urges Michigan business owners to get involved with local economic empowerment by engaging with the SSBCI Loan Application program. Prospective business owners and community organizations can visit PFE’s website for further information on how to get their business involved with reshaping Michigan’s small business landscape today.

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