From $2 to millions: See which Michigan businesses have received COVID grants

LANSING, MI — Nearly 3,000 Michigan businesses received COVID-19 relief grants earlier this year, with casinos, movie theaters and restaurants taking some of the biggest awards.

A September report from the Michigan Department of Treasury describes how a $409 million grant program was established to help companies recover from the pandemic and receive allocated funds.

The report shows that the Growing MI Business Grant Program distributed just $117 million, with nearly two-thirds of applicants being rejected. The state received applications from 8,329 companies and awarded grants to 2,981 of them.

Grant amounts ranged from $2 million to a maximum of $5 million.

“Our number one goal is to help eligible Michigan businesses gain relief so they can thrive in our economy post-pandemic,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said in a statement earlier this year. “We worked diligently with our business partners in the private and public sectors to ensure everyone was aware of the Growing MI Business Grant Program and helped companies navigate the application process.”

Only nine types of companies were eligible for the program. These included entertainment venues, recreational facilities, barbers and salons, gyms, restaurants, garden centers, athletic trainers, body art shops, and hotels.

Businesses have had to demonstrate “financial distress” with a drop in sales during the pandemic.

Here is a database of grant recipients ranked by dollar amount:

Can’t see the database? click here.

The three Detroit casinos each received $5 million in grants from the program. Its revenue fell from $1.4 billion before the pandemic to $639 million in 2020, but rebounded to nearly $1.3 billion last year, government data shows.

Ten other companies received grants in excess of $1 million. These include Amway Hotel Corporation, an Alticor subsidiary owned by the DeVos and Van Andel families; HIH Inc., a West Michigan-based hotel group; three cinema groups (MJR Cinemas, Celebration Cinema and AMC); apple bees; Michigan International Speedway; Planet Fitness; Boyne Mountain Resort at Boyne Falls; and HP3, which operates the JW Marriott Grand Rapids.

Four companies received grants of less than $10.

Grants were only awarded when total revenue losses exceeded the amount provided by other federal programs.

Most companies that were denied grants didn’t show a drop in sales of 5% or more, according to the report, after factoring in increases from the federal Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Other reasons were that companies did not provide sufficient evidence of financial difficulties or did not fall into one of the nine eligible sectors.

While only 13 companies received more than $1 million in grants, 65 of Michigan’s 83 counties received less than $1 million in total.

Here’s a look at the grant totals, broken down by county:

Can’t see the map? click here.

Wayne, Oakland, and Kent counties, which received the most grants, are also among Michigan’s most populous regions. Almost half of the $32 million raised in Wayne County went to Detroit’s three casinos.

Here’s a look at the average grant amount per county:

Can’t see the map? click here.

The average grant in Jackson County, where 22 companies received funding, was $106,312. Other top counties based on average grant amount were Emmett, Isabella, and Wayne.

Oakland County, Michigan’s second most populous county, received the most grants. Only companies in Luce County in the Upper Peninsula did not receive funding.

Approximately $292 million of the Growing MI Business Grant Program was unallocated. Those funds will remain until the Michigan Legislature and the Governor’s Office decide how to spend them, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

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