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Washtenaw Small Business Emergency Relief Fund Provides Grants to Distressed Small Businesses

March 31, 2020 Regional Updates
Washtenaw small business banner- laptop, notebook, paper airplane background

Ann Arbor SPARK, the Greater Washtenaw Region Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, and the Entrepreneurship Center at Washtenaw Community College, collaborated to create the Washtenaw Small Business Emergency Relief Fund. This emergency fund provided working capital grants up to $5,000 to qualifying small businesses that had financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Washtenaw Small Business Emergency Relief Fund was specifically aimed at small businesses with low-income owners located in neighborhoods at high risk for displacement. The grants could be used to cover day-to-day operating expenses of the business, including payroll or losses due to COVID-19.

More than $1.29 million was raised from The Song Foundation, Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, Bank of Ann Arbor, New Economy Initiative, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr Foundation, Chemical Bank, Pittsfield Charter Township, and others. We received requests for more than $4.7 million in funding.

Washtenaw County businesses met specific criteria to qualify:

  • The business must have experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19
  • The business owner’s annual household income must be less than $81,000
  • The business must have 50 employees or less
  • The business must have a physical presence in the Washtenaw County


Is the limit based on full-time employees or full-time equivalents (FTEs)?
FTEs, meaning two part-time employees would count as one “full-time equivalent.”

Are non-profits eligible?
This fund is for for-profit companies. The United Way is developing a fund to support non-profits:

If I apply and meet all qualifications, will I receive a grant?
Grant funds are limited and applying does not necessarily mean funding is available.


“Just as Washtenaw County has been working hard to ensure residents have the latest public health information and access to essential services, we are committed to helping the small business community,” said Gregory Dill, Washtenaw County Administrator. “We are proud to have seeded this fund with $100,000 and work with our partners in a truly collaborative way to support small business during this unprecedented time.”

“Stepping up to help the small businesses in our community during this extraordinary time is not only the right responsibility to take on, it’s an important extension of our mission to support these businesses that create jobs and contribute to the vitality of our community,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “Of note, we’re inviting those in our community looking to help small businesses to join us via a GoFundMe campaign.”