MDHHS Office of Inspector General receives $600,000 grant

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Press Release


CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112,

MDHHS Office of Inspector General receives $600,000 grant
to prevent food assistance fraud
Efforts ensure dollars available to those most in need

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Inspector General has received a $600,000 boost to its ongoing efforts to prevent food assistance fraud.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the award of $601,350 to enhance the program integrity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that in Michigan provides food assistance benefits to approximately 1.2 million people.

“MDHHS is focused on SNAP program integrity so that the limited federal dollars that are available can benefit families that need assistance,” said MDHHS Inspector General Alan Kimichik. “This funding allows the Office of Inspector General to continue using the groundbreaking technology that’s already been successfully implemented while making enhancements that increase efficiencies and execute concepts identified in the SNAP Fraud Framework. We will be implementing enhancements and additional automation not previously envisioned or available, increasing our efforts to ensure taxpayer funding is benefiting those truly in need.”

The Office of Inspector General’s grant award is focused on using data analytics and enhanced case management systems to detect and prevent fraud.

It will pay to modernize the Office of Inspector General’s investigative case management system known as the Michigan Inspector General System. Upgrades will improve access to reports and dashboards for investigators and the office’s management team. It also will provide for increased security of data with lower operating costs using a U.S. government cloud-based system.

This two-year grant will fund projects that support implementing the SNAP Fraud Framework – a collection of procedures, innovative ideas and best practices provided to state agencies in May 2018. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service created the SNAP Fraud Framework to improve state efforts to detect, investigate and prevent SNAP recipient fraud.

Whitmer Orders Flags to Full Staff

Whitmer Orders Flags to Full Staff



September 29, 2020

Contact: [email protected]


Gov. Whitmer Orders Flags to Full Staff Following Burial of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 


LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol Complex and upon all public buildings and grounds across the State of Michigan to be raised to full-staff on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 following the burial of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 15, 1933. She graduated from Cornell University before attending both Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School, where she ultimately completed her legal education.


Before she was appointed to the bench, Ginsburg pioneered women’s rights working with the American Civil Liberties Union as founding counsel of the Women’s Rights Project. Her work with the ACLU led to the first U.S. Supreme Court decision in which a gender-based statute was struck down based on equal protection grounds.


In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Justice Ginsburg to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.


In 1993, Justice Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton, becoming the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. While on the Supreme Court, she was known for her active role in oral arguments and her powerful dissents.


Justice Ginsburg passed away on Friday, September 18, 2020 at the age of 87 years old after battling metastatic pancreatic cancer.

More than 11,300 businesses across Michigan awarded grants

More than 11,300 businesses across Michigan awarded grants

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Banner - headshot with bridge graphic


September 29, 2020

Contact: Kathleen Achtenberg,


More than 11,300 businesses across Michigan already awarded grants through Michigan Small Business Restart Program 


  • Businesses statewide receive $69 million in grants to assist with COVID-19 recovery efforts
  • At least 72,950 jobs retained for Michigan workers
  • Grants were chosen and administered by 15 economic development organizations


LANSING, Mich. – More than 11,300 small businesses and nonprofits across Michigan have been awarded $69 million in grants by local economic development organizations as of September 10, 2020 through the Michigan Small Business Restart Grant Program, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. The program was launched to provide relief for small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Over the past six months, small business owners who have spent their entire lives building their businesses have made incredible sacrifices to protect their communities and our brave frontline workers from COVID-19. I know it hasn’t been easy, which is why we’re working around the clock to provide support for our small business owners. The Michigan Small Business Restart Program is providing much-needed relief to those small businesses and nonprofits hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19 as they work to recover from the pandemic,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This program puts federal funding to work for Michigan’s small businesses and builds on additional COVID-19 business relief efforts offered by the MEDC to create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery.”


Approved in July, the Michigan Small Business Restart Program allocated $100 million of federal CARES Act funding to provide support to Michigan’s small businesses and nonprofits that are reopening and have experienced a loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The funding was distributed across 15 local or nonprofit economic development organizations (EDOs) covering all 83 counties in the state for grants up to $20,000 to support certain small businesses and nonprofits that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


As of September 10, $69 million in grants have been awarded, with all remaining grants to be awarded by September 30, 2020 and reported by mid-October. At least 72,950 jobs have been retained for Michigan workers through these initial grant awards. Of the businesses to receive an award to date, 3,030 reported as minority-owned, 4,365 reported as woman-owned, and 550 reported as veteran-owned, with some businesses selecting multiple categories. At least 30 percent of the funds awarded under the program were required to be provided to women-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned eligible businesses, and all EDOs are on track to meet, or exceed, this requirement in the awards being made.


“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 COVID-19,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO Mark A. Burton. “We are proud to work with our economic development partners to deliver these vital financial resources and create a path toward economic recovery for small businesses throughout Michigan.”


The grants under the Michigan Small Business Restart Program may be used as working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses.


Facial spa Skin Bar VII of Detroit was awarded a grant through the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and the funds have helped the newly-opened business weather the COVID-19 pandemic and put them in a position to hire more employees in the future, according to owner Sevyn Jones.


“Skin Bar VII opened late last year on Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion,” Jones said. “We were just hitting our stride when the COVID-19 crisis hit. We have been blessed to received funding from both relief grant programs. As a result, we are open today both online and at our store on Livernois practicing newly implemented cleaning, health and safety regulations. As our customer traffic increases, we are looking to hire additional employees as we adjust to the new normal.”


To qualify for grant support, businesses had to meet the following criteria, based on statutory requirements for the program:

  • Is a business or nonprofit with fewer than 50 employees that can demonstrate it is affected by the COVID-19 emergency
  • Needs working capital to support eligible expenses
  • Demonstrates an income loss as a result of the COVID-19 emergency


Selected EDOs were responsible for reviewing applications of small businesses in their region and ultimately determining grant awards through the program. Each EDO established a review committee that could include representatives from local workforce agencies, local SBDC representatives, business and nonprofit leaders, among others. The full list of EDOs administering Michigan Small Business Restart grants, the counties they served, and the number of businesses supported is below.


To see the full list of businesses that were awarded Restart grants as of September 10, 2020, visit here.


Paint a Pot, a paint-your-own pottery shop in Holland, was awarded a $20,000 grant, and owner Kerri DeVries said the funds could not have come at a better time.


“Our local pottery shop was hit hard by spring shutdowns brought on by COVID-19,” DeVries said. “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.”


The Michigan Small Business Restart Program is modeled after the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, approved on March 19 by the Michigan Strategic Fund to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.


The Michigan Small Business Relief Program consisted of a total of $20 million aimed at supporting businesses in need of immediate relief. The program included $10 million that was distributed to 15 local EDOs to provide grants up to $10,000 to certain small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, the program authorized $10 million for small business loans of not less than $50,000 and not more than $100,000 to eligible borrowers impacted by COVID-19 that were not able to seek alternative, suitable financing.


Prior to today’s announcement, the MEDC had launched 19 COVID-19 relief and recovery programs expected to support up to 10,000 businesses in the state and helping to retain more than 21,000 jobs across all 83 counties. To learn more about MEDC’s COVID-19 response programs and the impact they are having on economic recovery efforts, visit Other resources for economic reopening efforts as well as businesses across Michigan struggling with economic losses as a result of the COVID-19 virus can be found online at


About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.


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Quotes from local partners


Detroit Economic Growth Corporation

“The Michigan Restart grant program is helping Detroit businesses remain open, adapt and grow during these uncertain economic times,” said DEGC Vice President Pierre Batton. “Several of our Detroit small businesses are using COVID relief funding to digitize, scale, hire back employees and adhere to health and safety protocols. This grant program provides a lifeline for Detroit small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy.”


Flint & Genesee Regional Chamber

“Judging from the number of heartfelt messages the Flint & Genesee Chamber has received from the grantees who were awarded funding, the impact of the Michigan Small Business Restart Program on our region is clear as a bell,” said Tyler Rossmaessler, the Chamber’s director of economic development. “For many of these owners, the program truly delivered a lifeline of support.”


Macomb County

“Throughout the unprecedented times we have made it a priority to engage our business community and develop inventive ways to stabilize our economy and community,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “They have stepped up in so many ways to be part of the solution, and these critical resources from the MEDC will aid in our continued response.”


Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)

“LEAP is thrilled to assist more than 400 local small businesses and nonprofits from across our three-county area, to survive this historic crisis and prepare to thrive moving forward. We found the right balance as a community, to best strengthen the entirety of our economy now and into the future. I want to thank the federal and state legislatures, Governor Whitmer, the MEDC and especially 70 local reviewers who made this all happen. It was a remarkable effort from all perspectives and LEAP was proud to lead the way in the Lansing region,” Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP).


Middle Michigan Development Corporation

“The Restart grant program is proving to be a lifeline for so many of our small businesses and nonprofits within the mid-Michigan area,” said Middle Michigan Development Corporation President and CEO James McBryde. “Many thanks to the Michigan Legislature and to the MEDC for making this program available.”


Southwest Michigan First

Southwest Michigan First CEO and Senior Partner Ron Kitchens cannot remember a time that funding was more critically needed in his career. “The pandemic has intensified the importance of jobs to local economies, peoples’ livelihoods and their sense of well-being. Only by protecting our small businesses can we ensure the ability of all to grow and prosper,” said Kitchens. “The State of Michigan and Michigan Economic Development Corporation have done an excellent job of developing a suite of financial assistance options, like the Michigan Small Business Restart Program, to keep the doors of small businesses open. We thank everyone who participated in this process. The impact we are having could not have been made without our partners at the MEDC and MSF, other Southwest Michigan EDOs, and in particular, Governor Whitmer.


“We congratulate the recipients receiving allocations from this program. At Southwest Michigan First, we believe that the greatest force for change is a job, and we thank today’s recipients for keeping as many people employed as possible during this unprecedented time. We truly wish we could have supported all requests, but demand outnumbered our available pool of money 6:1,” continued Kitchens. “But there’s more that can be done—that everyone can do. We all must shop and eat local during this time and support these small businesses that make our region a remarkable place in which to live and work.”


Lakeshore Advantage 

“We are grateful to the MEDC and all of our state and federal legislative 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.”


The Right Place

“The Right Place and our regional partners have made more than $9 million in grants to critically impacted small businesses in West Michigan,” said Birgit Klohs, President and CEO, The Right Place, Inc. “These funds are offering a financial lifeline to our small companies and we are pleased that over half of these grants were awarded to women, minority, and veteran-owed small businesses.”


Saginaw Future

“We received more than 700 applications for Saginaw County, which demonstrates the tremendous need of our small businesses and non-profits,” said Saginaw Future Vice President Tom Miller, Jr. “Special thanks to the Saginaw Community Foundation, bankers, credit union representatives and community leaders who scored each of the applications. We were able to stretch the grant funds to cover about half the applications and are hopeful that more funds will be secured as well.”


Empty The Shelters Event This Week

Empty The Shelters Event This Week

Adopt A New Friend At Empty The Shelters Event This Week At Oakland County Animal Shelter And Pet Adoption Center

$25 Fee Thanks To BISSELL Pet Foundation – October Is Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

Pontiac, Michigan – Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center and BISSELL Pet Foundation (BPF) are kicking off Adopt a Shelter Dog Month this October with an Empty the Shelters pet adoption event Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2. The pet adoption fee is only $25 thanks to BPF. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pet adoption center is open by appointment only from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. both days.

“There are a hundred animals waiting for their forever home at the pet adoption center,” said Bob Gatt, Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center manager. “We are grateful for BISSELL Pet Foundation’s continued support throughout the pandemic.”

All animals included in the Empty the Shelters promotion will be microchipped and spayed or neutered to prevent further pet homelessness. To adopt a pet, bring a driver’s license or state identification, complete an application, and pay the $25 fee. Call 248-858-1070 to schedule an appointment.

Eighty-two adoptable cats and 28 adoptable dogs will be available for adoption. Some of the dogs will be adopted through a rescue organization that will be on site. For more information, go to

For media inquiries only, please contact Bill Mullan, Oakland County media & communications officer, at 248-858-1048.

Michigan out-of-doors open for fall fun

Michigan out-of-doors open for fall fun

Back view of two people dressed in warm clothing and hats, hiking a trail at Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Sept. 28, 2020

Michigan out-of-doors open for fall fun

Some DNR facilities, including customer service centers, remain closed

As the weather cools and foliage warms to vibrant yellows and reds, there’s plenty to do in Michigan’s great outdoors. From hiking and biking the more than 13,000 miles of picturesque trails spanning both peninsulas to taking fall color tours or camping adventures at state parks, Michigan is open for fall fun.

At the beginning of the coronavirus emergency, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources closed or limited access to many sites and facilities to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of customers, volunteers and staff. Some of those places remain closed, some are open only by appointment, and other activities and locations are fully available to the public. The DNR will continue to evaluate sites and facilities on a case-by-case basis and change open/closed/limited status as needed.

What’s open?

Some activities were never closed, such as day visits to state parks, fishing, hunting and trail use. Michiganders could always enjoy these activities, and still can, while practicing proper safety protocols. Open recreation resources include:

  • State-managed motorized and nonmotorized trails.
  • Some DNR-managed harbors, with many accepting reservations through October.
  • DNR-managed boating access sites, with a few exceptions due to high water levels.
  • State parks, including most campgrounds and park amenities. A Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into state parks.
  • State forest campgrounds.
  • Visitors centers, though some have reduced days and hours of operations.
  • Some DNR-managed historic sites and museums, though the regular season close dates vary by location. Check ahead before visiting.
  • DNR shooting ranges, staffed and unstaffed, some with revised hours and restrictions. The Dansville range in Ingham County remains closed due to staffing limitations.
  • Deer check stations, though the number open and hours of operation will be reduced.

What’s closed?

  • DNR customer service centers and field offices are closed to walk-in traffic, but available by appointment.
  • State park headquarters buildings.
  • In Detroit, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and Belle Isle Aquarium on Belle Isle and the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center.
  • Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center on Higgins Lake.
  • Some historic sites and museums, including the Michigan History Center and the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.
  • Archives of Michigan, although reference services are available through virtual appointments or by contacting Archives staff at 517-335-2576 or [email protected].
  • Fish hatcheries and weirs. Although the fish are still cared for by DNR fisheries staff, the facilities are closed to the public.

Keeping safe during COVID-19

No matter how you choose to enjoy the outdoors, it’s important to protect yourself and others by following simple coronavirus health and safety protocols.

In all locations, stay at least 6 feet from people who aren’t from your household. This includes enclosed spaces, campgrounds, day-use areas and deer check stations.

Wear your face mask. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-147 requires everyone to wear a face covering when in indoor public spaces, including restrooms/shower buildings, contact stations and visitor centers. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces when 6 feet of space cannot be maintained.

If you have a fever or respiratory symptoms or just aren’t feeling well, please stay home. In addition, when visiting locations, respect established capacity and safety guidelines.

When visiting shooting ranges, please bring your own materials such as sandbags, spotting scopes, carpet squares and eye and ear protection. These items will no longer be provided due to the difficulty in keeping them sanitized.