Ann Arbor SPARK, along with its private, public, foundation, and university partners, has been working hard to respond to the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. Throughout 2020, SPARK consistently has been a reliable resource for small business owners looking for support, from coordinating hyper-focused virtual events to regionally administering and distributing state and local funds earmarked for COVID relief.
The Consumers Energy Foundation recognized the value of Ann Arbor SPARK and awarded the organization a $50,000 grant as part of a special program designed to provide economic development assistance across the state.
“Ann Arbor SPARK quickly and reliably mobilized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to serve the community with our virtual programs and events crafted to specifically address the distinct and ongoing challenges business owners face,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “As a result of the Consumers Energy Foundation’s generosity, we are able to further our reach and impact throughout the Ann Arbor region.”
In May, SPARK launched its Business Recovery Center to consolidate all of its COVID-related programming and additional resources. The Business Recovery Center platform is powered by InfoReady Corporation, an Ann Arbor-based startup.
Since March, the Consumers Energy Foundation has provided more than $4 million to Michigan’s nonprofits to care for communities, including $1.8 million focused directly to provide assistance to small business.
“Small businesses form the backbone of our state’s economy, and we at Consumers Energy are working every day to help them until Michigan defeats the pandemic,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We are happy to work with local economic development organizations that know their communities’ needs best and are making sure our new contributions are having the biggest impact.”
On December 17, Ann Arbor SPARK clients, Michigan entrepreneurs, and the general public are invited to attend SPARK’s Virtual Open House: 2021 Programming Preview to learn more about next year’s programs, including SPARK.tech and a new book club co-hosted with Humanenergy.
About Consumers Energy Foundation
The Consumers Energy Foundation is the charitable arm of Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider. The Foundation enables communities to thrive and grow by investing in what’s most important to Michigan — its people, our planet and Michigan’s prosperity. In 2019, the Consumers Energy Foundation, Consumers Energy, its employees and retirees contributed more than $11.5 million to Michigan nonprofits. For more information, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/foundation.
About Ann Arbor SPARK
Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization, is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business acceleration, attraction and retention. The organization identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from startups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners. For more information, please call (734) 761-9317 or visit www.AnnArborUSA.org.