LEAP receives 1,640 applications for $1.59 million in small business grants

At least 30% will go the minorities

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 12 — The Lansing Economic Area Partnership announced today it received 1,640 eligible applications for $1.59 million in grants through LEAP’s new Small Business Restart Program.

LEAP said it will announce the 402 recipients Sept. 21, with 200 grants of $10,000 each for “microbusinesses” of nine or fewer workers; 125 grants of $20,000 each to “traditional” businesses with 50 or fewer employees; and 77 grants to nonprofit organizations employing 50 or fewer people.

The funding is part of a statewide, $100 million state program being paid for from Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars under the CARES Act. A minimum of 30% must go to minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

“As was the case with the relief grants and loans LEAP distributed in March and April where we were able to award only 3 percent of applicants with grants,” LEAP’s email to applicants said today, “we are again faced with the heartbreaking reality that the need for support within our small-business community across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties far exceeds the amount of funds available.”

LEAP said that only 25% of applicants will be selected. “The best thing LEAP can provide you with is a transparent, fair process,” applicants were told.

LEAP said the review process has started by 60 reviewers drawn “from a broad and diverse pool of expertise and experiences from within the Lansing region,” including LEAP staff and representatives of the Capital Region Small Business Development Center, Capital Area Michigan Works! , various “diversity, equity and inclusion” organizations and “stakeholders from a diverse variety of additional local partner organizations” throughout Greater Lansing. Reviewers will be screened for conflicts of interest and “will not be assigned to score applications of friends, business clients/customers,” among other categories.

Each application will receive two different reviews and scores by teams of two reviewers, with each person scoring 50 randomly selected “conflict removed” applications.

Each team of two will jointly select their top 15 microbusiness or 25 traditional small business applications.

Then a nine-member “final deliberation panel” will recommend finalists to LEAP, which will make final decisions. The panel will comprise four LEAP staffers; three “diversity, equity and inclusion” representatives; and one each from the Michigan Small Business Development Center and Capital Area Michigan Works!

Funds should be distributed by the end of September, LEAP said.

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