Wayne County has withdrawn $32 million pledged for a fund that aims to help small businesses in communities in southeast Michigan, a project partner said Tuesday.
Wafa Dinaro, executive director of the New Economy Initiative, the philanthropic group that supports entrepreneurship and is a project of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, said she received notice Oct. 24 that Wayne County was canceling partnership and all funding from Wayne County. The Small Business Hub fund, which is said to have helped small business owners in towns like Inkster, River Rouge, Ecorse and Romulus.
The partnership was announced by Dinaro and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans in June at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. The fund began as a $54 million investment that also included matching from several private partners. It now stands at $22 million.
The $32 million pledged by the county was to come from American Rescue Plan Act funds, which are government dollars earmarked for COVID-19 relief, and support was contingent on approval of the allocation by the Wayne County Commission. The Wayne County Commission office could not immediately be reached for comment.
When Dinaro was informed that Wayne County was out, she said she was “incredibly disappointed”.
“I mean, this is a $32 million infusion for underserved small businesses across the county,” Dinaro said Tuesday. “…I really want to see the county continue to be committed to small businesses, especially in BIPOC communities and underserved communities.”
Dinaro said no other information was provided to explain the cancellation, beyond the letter.
Asked about the cancellation, Wayne County said in an emailed statement Tuesday that it was due to a leadership change in county administration and other unnamed factors.
“Helping small businesses and nonprofits has remained a priority for Executive Evans since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wayne County Department of Economic Development Director Luz Meza. , in the press release. “The Evans administration has contributed more than $60 (million) in small business relief and remains committed to the continued support of small businesses.”
She continued, “During a change in leadership and as the process of developing our small business center continued, Wayne County management determined that it would be more beneficial to establish direct relations with the stakeholders of this work.”
After:Homeless Michigan children are rarely enrolled in early learning programs
After:Taylor Swift delivers the June 10 show at Ford Field in Detroit as part of the Eras Tour
The fund will continue its projects with the finances it still has, Dinaro said. The funding will be distributed to business support organizations who will then provide technical assistance to small businesses.
Dinaro said the program is still readjusting its plans based on the notice.
“NEI is considering expanding into Wayne County,” Dinaro said. “We are still incredibly committed to supporting these communities and supporting these business support organizations. It’s just going to be different now that we no longer have $32 million from ARPA funds. Dinaro said there are still plans to provide assistance to Inkster, Ecorse, River Rouge, a few communities downriver and Romulus.
“But we’re still working on what it’s going to look like,” she said. “But our footprint is going to have to be smaller, just because we’re working with less money.”
Just over $4 million has already been distributed to business support organizations since the initial announcement, Dinaro said. The program is funded until 2025.
The fund continues to be supported by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Ford Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Kresge Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, WK Kellogg Foundation and the William Davidson Foundation.
Meza said, “We will continue to make small business a priority through the investment of ARPA funds in projects such as the Small Business Hub while continuously incorporating input from our small business stakeholders. We strive to provide a transparent process as we continue to make progress on economic development in Wayne County. »
#Wayne #County #withdraws #million #commitment #small #business #fund