Coulter Seeks $32 Million Recovery Grant Fund for Retail, Restaurants, Personal Service Businesses Hurt by COVID-19

Oakland County Executive David Coulter (Photo by Brad Ziegler)

Oakland County Executive David Coulter said on June 17 that he will seek $32 million to help retail stores, restaurants and personal service businesses such as salons and fitness centers that were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Coulter will ask the county Board of Commissioners for a $32 million allocation to create Oakland Together Economic Recovery Grants. They would provide an immediate infusion of capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar ones that occur in the ordinary course of business. The funds would come from CARES Act money allocated by the federal government.

“This small business community is a key driver to having a successful economy in Oakland County,” Coulter said. “As our small businesses reopen, we want to ensure they have the resources to keep their customers safe and recover from the downturn.

“These businesses are the fabric of our communities, providing job opportunities for our neighbors and life experiences that make our communities desirable.”

The board is expected to consider the request next week. If approved, the program would begin July 1. Online applications will be accepted then and the deadline for submission is Aug. 25. They will be reviewed as they are received, and a funding decision would be made.

“It’s important as we consider the applications that we remember the areas of the county hardest hit by the pandemic,” Coulter said.

Coulter and the board have been aggressive in funding programs and services to help mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic to businesses and communities, devoting nearly $60 million to the cause.

Allocations and services include:

  • Nearly $14 million was allocated to 3,500 small businesses seriously impacted by the pandemic. Grants averaged nearly $4,000 from the small business stabilization fund.
  • The “Saving Businesses, Saving Lives” grant, which incentivized Oakland County manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment for health care workers, hospitals and first responders, is included in the nearly $14 million fund.
  • $10 million fund to support non-profit organizations.
  • $35 million to assist Oakland County communities with costs related to COVID-19.
  • 15,000 Oakland Together COVID-19 safety kits which include facemasks, no-touch thermometers, gloves and sanitizer were created to give small businesses essential materials for reopening and customers confidence they will have a safe experience. The kits are available to small businesses, faith-based and nonprofit organizations.

If approved by the board, the Recovery Grant Fund would bring the total pandemic allocation to nearly $93 million. The funds are intended to support for-profit businesses that due to the COVID – 19 pandemic, suffered actual or anticipated losses from March 2020 through July 2020:

  • Experienced a loss of revenue
  • Operated at a reduced level of production, sales, employment or service
  • Fully closed all operations and are now in the process of reopening

 Only businesses that operate a physical location in Oakland County are eligible to apply for and receive grant funds through this program. Eligible businesses for a Recovery Grant Fund include:

  • Retail trade
  • Accommodations and food service
  • Business and personal services
  • Entertainment and recreation
  • Household maintenance and repair

“Small businesses are the hiring engine of our county,” Coulter said. “When we talk about assistance and helping everyday folks who are experiencing hardships from COVID-19, it does not get any more direct than helping the small businesses that employ a great majority of our Oakland County residents.”

Oakland County has:

  • Nearly 4,500 retail establishments with less than 50 employees and about 300 with 50 or more employees. Collectively, they employee more than 73,800 people.
  • Establishments that serve alcohol but no food: 100
  • Restaurants/bars that serve food: 2,263
  • Health/personal care stores: 649
  • Varies building contractors with less than 50 employees: 2,500