West Michigan Business Leaders Rally in Support of Small Businesses
Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation announces Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund in partnership with area business groups, local philanthropists
Grand Rapids, Michigan – The Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation today announced the creation of a Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund to provide short-term, emergency financial relief to small businesses impacted by widespread closures brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak. The fund has raised more than $1 million thus far and seeks to raise $3 million in total.
The fund, which has already started to award grants, provides $5,000 – $10,000 to small businesses located in Kent County with five to 25 full-time employees. In addition, recipients receive backroom financial support and the services of a business consultant to assist with cash flow projections. Ultimately, the fund seeks to act as a financial bridge to small, for-profit businesses awaiting assistance from government-sponsored programs and organizations that cannot access local, state, or federal relief funds.
The Chamber Foundation has connected with the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB), Start Garden, The Right Place, SpringGR, Ferris Emprende, Local First, and Area Neighborhood Business Associations to identify potential applicants and to ensure all populations have an ability to seek and secure funds.
“We are committed to having both an organization and initiative where the most vulnerable and underserved businesses understand that they belong in this community,” said Grand Rapids Chamber President & CEO Rick Baker. “It is paramount to support those that have contributed to the vibrancy of our city and work together to cultivate a thriving and prosperous West Michigan for all.”
Thus far, the fund has authorized 44 grants totaling $415,000. Organizations receiving support are 97 percent minority-owned and 50 percent women-owned.
“The Rapid Response Relief grant helped preserve over ten years of dedication to building our business,” said Sterling D. Massey of Massey Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. “With the funding, we could maintain our staffing model, rework our strategic plan, and maintain contact with our customers remotely with minimal interruption. This grant certainly made navigating this crisis easier and may have saved our business.”
Business owners interested in applying for support should visit www.grchamberfoundation.org/rapid-response-fund for more information.
Local donors have rallied to support this initiative, seeking to aid those businesses with the greatest need. Foundations and corporations supporting the Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund include:
- CDV5 Foundation
- Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation
- Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation
- Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation
- Jandernoa Foundation
- Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation
- Peter C. & Emajean Cook Foundation
- Priority Health
- Profile Films
In a letter to the Chamber Foundation announcing its support, the DeVos family wrote, “The situation is urgent for many small businesses and we’re eager to partner with the Chamber and others to provide needed support during this difficult time. Small businesses drive communities, and the economic success and overall vibrancy of the region is due in large part to their work. We look forward to the day, hopefully soon, when they’ll lead this community back as we find ways to reengage safely, protecting lives and livelihoods.”
Organizations and individuals seeking to support this effort are encouraged to do so. Individual donations can be made at www.grchamberfoundation.org, while organizations and foundations are welcome to contact Chamber Vice President Omar Cuevas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation
The Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation works to provide programming and funding that encourages free enterprise, enhances the quality of life in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, and otherwise serves as a charitable, scientific, literary, or educational source for the community.