Header 2021


July 19, 2021

Contact: [email protected]


Gov. Whitmer Launches MI Small Business Summer Tour to Invest in Small Businesses, Support Working Michiganders, and Jumpstart the Economy


LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer today kicked off the MI Small Business Summer tour. The governor announced she and her cabinet members will visit and recognize Michigan’s small businesses that have shown resiliency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and are the backbone of our communities. Throughout the pandemic, the state’s dozens of economic relief programs for businesses supported more than 25,000 companies and retained more than 200,000 jobs.


The state of Michigan is already seeing promising results from the economic policies and COVID mitigation measures that have helped small businesses and working people recover from the pandemic:

  • Michigan’s economy grew 7.6% in the first quarter of 2021, the best in the Midwest, higher than the national average, and among the top 10 states nationwide.
  • An independent analysis from the financial publication Credible states that our economic recovery is the 2nd strongest nationwide.
  • The financial ratings agencies Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings recently improved Michigan’s credit rating outlook, affirming that Michigan is headed in the right direction and saving taxpayers money by lower borrowing costs for upcoming bond issues.
  • New projections show the state’s revenue outlook increasing by nearly $6.5 billion — from a $3 billion deficit to a $3.5 billion surplus.
  • Michigan’s unemployment rate is nearly one point lower than the national average as more Michiganders get back to work.


“As we continue to put Michigan’s economy first, I’m laser focused on getting small businesses the support they need and creating jobs,” Governor Whitmer said. “Our dedication to small businesses is fueled from hearing from the small businesses themselves. From hosting a series of small business summits with Lt. Gov. Gilchrist to our recent Jobs and Economy town hall, we have been hearing what small businesses need directly from those who need it most. These conversations ensure that our economic recovery is strong and meets the needs of Michiganders across the state as we put Michigan back to work.”


Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) have launched the Michigan.gov/SmallBusiness site to help Small Businesses navigate state programs and services available to help them not only recover, but grow and thrive in the years to come. Additional programs aimed at helping employers fill job openings and provide safe, healthy work environments for employees can be found at Michigan.gov/BackToWork.


“To date, we have supported tens of thousands of small businesses, keeping millions of Michiganders hard at work while investing billions of dollars back into the economy,” Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist said. “But we can’t stop there. As we continue setting a course for economic recovery, we need additional efforts to stabilize, recover and ultimately grow the economy in Michigan to build on the foundation of support and relief we have already administered statewide.”


In addition to the June statewide virtual small business summit and in-person Detroit Small Business Summit, the State of Michigan is bringing together small businesses, state and local policymakers, regional economic development leaders, banks and credit unions, business owners and community organizations to collect feedback through regional small business summits and other outreach events to learn how to best create policies and program to continue to support small businesses.


The next event will take place in Grand Rapids on July 19 from 3 – 5 p.m. at the Downtown Market Grand Rapids. Additional regional and industry-specific events are in the process of being scheduled. To register and for more information, visit the online Small Business Summit meetings site.


With the large boost in state revenues announced at the May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference, Michigan is in a strong position to make large investments that can transform the state and help residents and businesses recover from the pandemic.


With billions in funding from the American Rescue Plan and $176 million in federal State Small Business Credit Initiative funds coming our way in addition to a large influx of state revenue, this is a moment in Michigan’s history that can deliver real and lasting positive outcomes for the state.


This unprecedented amount of funding creates an unmatched opportunity for investment in our state.


“We need to ensure businesses have what they need to succeed because a recovery without robust business investment and involvement will be incomplete,” Whitmer added. “With additional state revenues expected and billions of dollars in incoming federal funding, Michigan is in a strong position to make investments that can transform the landscape for small businesses so they can thrive and create jobs.”



  • Governor Whitmer proposed putting $300M into the Michigan Mainstreet Initiative.
  • Michigan Small Business Restart Program: Governor Whitmer’s plan will invest $100 million to help restaurants and other place-based businesses cover costs by providing grants up to $20,000 for mortgage, rent, taxes, payroll and other operating expenses. The plan will set aside $25 million for small businesses with less than nine employees, which is over half of Michigan businesses and a high proportion of women and minority-owned businesses.
  • Michigan Small Business SmartZones & Business Accelerator & Resiliency Initiative: Governor Whitmer’s plan would invest $75 million to provide grants to startups that can help our communities thrive. The plan would create the Small Business Support Network and Small Business Fund to support traditional commercial corridor/Main Street businesses and provide opportunities for new businesses.
  • Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative: Governor Whitmer’s plan would invest $125 million to provide grants for businesses that did not qualify or apply for other incentives, like the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The plan would work with community development financial institutions to provide loans to rural businesses or other businesses with less than nine employees that struggled to access capital through traditional programs.


In addition to the suite of proposals dedicated to small business and restaurants laid out in Governor Whitmer’s Economic Jumpstart Plan, throughout the pandemic, the state has implemented 23 economic relief programs for businesses, supported more than 25,000 companies and retained more than 200,000 jobs.



  • Providing Economic Relief: The MEDC launched 23 economic relief programs since March of last year to provide over $240 million in vital economic support to small businesses across all 83 Michigan counties. The programs supported over 25,000 companies and retained over 200,000 jobs with nearly 75% of support going to restaurants, bars, retailers and other service industry small businesses.
  • Business Grants to Help Small Businesses Grow Export Activities: In FY20, MEDC’s International Trade Program assisted 530 Michigan companies to increase their export sales to 121 countries.
  • Early-Stage Funding for Startups: The Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program led to over 1,300 high-tech companies being formed in Michigan, and over 20,000 new full time equivalent jobs.
  • Assisting Communities in Revitalizing Commercial Districts: In FY20, Match on Main through MEDC’s Community Development team awarded 30 grants, supporting 307 main street businesses.


  • Back to Work Incentive: Governor Whitmer expanded Work Share to offer employers greater flexibility as they brought employees back from unemployment. Throughout the pandemic, the program provided over $550 million, preserved over 110,000 jobs and helped nearly 2,600 employers retain workers and bring them back to the workforce.
  • Emergency Financial Assistance: Governor Whitmer’s actions to expand and extend access to unemployment programs have provided a critical lifeline for 3.3 million Michiganders since March 2020, paying over $36 billion in benefits, resulting over $68 billion in economic impact.



  • Virtual Job Fairs: Michigan ensured employers had access to traditional job search tools by organizing over 100 free virtual job fairs and connecting over 2,600 employers and 9,900 job seekers.
  • Apprenticeship Expansion: Creating benefits for employers and career seekers through on-the-job learning focused on new industry sectors and increasing the diversity of participants by recruiting groups historically underrepresented. Federal grants will help Michigan create over 6,000 new apprentices over the next few years.
  • Tuition-Free Certificates & Degrees: By investing $24 million in the Futures for Frontliners program, Governor Whitmer launched a new, first in the nation scholarship program that resulted in over 120,000 essential, frontline worker applicants on a tuition-free path. Whitmer also launched Michigan Reconnect with a $30 million investment to ensure over 4.1 million Michiganders age 25 or older will have an opportunity to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate. To date, nearly 75,000 Michiganders have applied.


  • Record $1.4B Investment Proposal: Governor Whitmer proposed a $1.4 billion investment in federal child care funding to expand access to high-quality child care, make child care more affordable, and support child care professionals as part of the administration’s Economic Jumpstart Plan. The plan should bring access for care to an additional 150,000 Michigan children.
  • MI Tri-Share Child Care Program: The state plans to expand its $1 million pilot that provides more affordable child care through an innovative, bipartisan cost-sharing program that divides cost equally between employees, employer and state.



  • Safety Grants: The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity issued over $8 million in MIOSHA safety grants to over 1,500 businesses to help them invest in equipment, training and other materials to address their specific needs to create safe workplaces.
  • Winterization Grants: The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity provided $3 million in federal CARES Act funds to over 300 small businesses to expand their capacity by adding weatherized, temporary outdoor facilities.
  • Ambassador Program: The free consultation program helped over 5,400 employers create safe workplaces to get people back to work.


These programs will ensure that our small businesses come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.  Learn more and find resources for Small Businesses at Michigan.gov/SmallBusinesses.