This column by Rep. Joe Bellino originally appeared in The Monroe News.
In tough times like these, public health is and should be the top concern of everyone – including government. That’s rightly been the primary focus in the days since coronavirus rocked our world.
It’s also important to remember the economic consequences of the virus here in the 17th District and all across Michigan – including for small businesses and their employees, the folks who form the backbone of our communities. Just like when it comes to our health, we must work together to get through this crisis economically.
In that spirit, I’d like to share some information about resources available for small businesses and workers affected by this unprecedented situation. It’s a partial listing of places to turn and programs set up to help during these trying times.
U.S. Small Business Administration program. The federal government has included Michigan in an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration. This means small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits that have suffered economic losses because of the coronavirus outbreak and mandated shutdowns will be able to apply for low-interest loans. The program is designed to provide resources for businesses facing a temporary loss of revenue. For more information, visit or apply at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Michigan Small Business Relief Program. The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved a program of up to $20 million in total including $10 million in grants and $10 million in loans. Funding is expected to be available by April 1, and more details on how to apply should be posted soon. It’s expected to cover many types of small businesses including those shut down or limited by the governor’s virus-related executive orders. Eligible businesses will have 50 or fewer employees and need resources to meet payroll, rent, or other expenses in the wake of revenue lost because of coronavirus. More information is available at michiganbusiness.org/covid19.
Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. Unfortunately, new claims to receive benefits already are soaring due to coronavirus shutdowns. Gov. Whitmer, through an executive order, has temporarily expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits to include more Michiganders whose families are affected by coronavirus. Benefits temporarily will be increased from 20 weeks to 26 weeks, and the application eligibility period has increased from 14 days to 28 days. Eligible Michiganders may apply online at Michigan.gov/UIA or call 1-866-500-0017. A fact sheet with more information on how to apply for benefits is available here.
As your state representative, I already have voted to provide $150 million in state funding to assist the state’s coronavirus response – money that will increase testing and monitoring, and help hospitals and other health care providers expand capacity. I am studying more ways to help during these tough times. Meanwhile, more information about the state’s response to the virus is available at https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.
(Rep. Joe Bellino represents District 17 in the Michigan House, including parts of Monroe and Wayne counties.)