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Local businesses awarded grant money through state program

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Bob’s Bullpen owner Bob LeFevre shows off a display of Din Djarin, also known as Mado, from the popular Disney+ show The Madolorian at his store on Wednesday. Bob’s Bullpen was one of 59 businesses in Alpena County to receive state funding via the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant program.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday the recipients of the state’s latest round of small business relief.

It is a portion of the $52 million in state funding made available via the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant program, which provided needed funds to nearly 6,000 small businesses statewide.

In all, there was more than $1.9 million in grants distributed to businesses in Northeast Michigan.

The funding is geared toward helping businesses navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic and retain employees.

Businesses in Alpena, Alcona, Presque Isle, and Montmorency counties received between $5,000 and $15,000.

The money was divided up by committees made up of representatives of the counties that were set up by regional economic development agencies such as Target Alpena.

In Alpena County, there were 59 businesses that received the state funding, including 15 who received the $15,000 maximum grant.

Among those were Thunder Bowl Lanes, Northern Lights Arena, Austin Brothers Beer Company, Fresh Palate, Red Brick Tap and Barrel, and Alpena County.

Red Brick Tap and Barrel co-owner Kevin Peterson said he appreciates the support. He said since the business opened early in 2020, it was closed more than open. The money from the state, he said, allows him to fully staff the restaurant, and prepare for an outdoor dining option later this year, which will provide comfort to customers who may be reluctant to dine indoors.

Survival Grant Summary by James Andersen on Scribd

“It has allowed me to give my employees more hours and make plans for the outdoor dining option,” he said. “Every little bit helps and all of the money is being used for the employees and business.”

The Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan also received $15,000. The museum has been limited in how it can operate during the pandemic, and moved to a digital outreach platform to connect the museum and people.

Executive Director Christine Witulski said the money will be used on staffing, which is counted on to continue offering online content, as well as in-person offerings at the facility.

“It is really a morale booster,” she said. “It gives us a sense of security that we will be able to cover payroll. We have lost a lot of revenue with not having admissions, events, and a loss of membership, so this really helps us and gives us hope for the future.”

There were 22 businesses in Presque Isle County that received funding, of which six got the full amount of $15,000. Those businesses include Fuhrman Enterprises, Hawks Bar and Grill, and Woodwinds Restaurant.

There were 14 grantees in Alcona County, with the highest grant of $12,000 forwarded to 10 businesses, including the Glennie Tavern, North End Restaurant, Mountain Inn Beverage Company, Couzins Grill, and 3 Fs Entertainment.

Thirteen businesses in Montmorency County received funding, which was passed through Otsego County to them. The $15,000 recipients were Timbertown Lanes, Lucky D’s, and Village Loft Inc. All the other grantees received $10,000.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the money will help small businesses immediately, but added that additional resources are needed to assist them, and the state’s economy as a whole.

“These grants, combined with additional business relief efforts offered by the MEDC, will create a strong foundation for Michigan’s long-term economic recovery,” Whitmer said. “As we distribute the safe and effective vaccine and work to end the pandemic once and for all, I will continue partnering with leaders across the state and urging passage of the MI COVID Recovery plan to provide relief for our small businesses, protect public health, and jumpstart the economy.”

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