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Kalamazoo Grant Program Returns, Providing Relief for Smallest Businesses

A grant program launched last year to bring crucial relief to Kalamazoo’s smallest businesses during the pandemic will offer a second round of grants.

The Kalamazoo Micro-Enterprise Grants (KMEG) program provides grants of $5,000 to eligible microbusinesses within the city limits. The grants are a partnership between the City of Kalamazoo and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, with support from the Foundation For Excellence.

KMEG funding was approved by the City Commission in March and will provide 90 micro-enterprise businesses with support this year. In 2020, the City and United Way collaborated on the first round of KMEG funding, and continue to partner on the Kalamazoo Small Business Loan Fund. See results of both programs at www.changethestory.org/kalamazoo-small-business-support.

Our partnership with the City of Kalamazoo on KMEG last year showed how we can make a powerful difference together for this vital business sector,” said Chris Sargent, President & CEO of United Way BCKR. “We’re proud to collaborate again to benefit these businesses, the people who operate them and the community they serve.”

Micro-enterprises, also known as microbusinesses, are very small businesses—typically 10 or fewer employees— yet bring unique skills and services to the community. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, micro-enterprises make up about 75% of private sector employers. Many micro-enterprises are BIPOC (Black, indigenous and other people of color)-owned and/or women-owned. They are vital to income and wealth generation in underserved communities.

The new round of grants aims to support community members living below the ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained and Employed) threshold, with a strong focus on providing support to BIPOC-owned and women-owned microbusinesses. Historically, BIPOC- and women-owned businesses have struggled to access  funding compared to other businesses, and they were hit especially hard by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“KMEG fills an important need in our community, helping the smallest businesses get help and persevere through this challenging time,” said Antonio Mitchell, Community Investment Manager for the City of Kalamazoo.

United Way will administer the grants. Only businesses that did not receive KMEG funds in the last round are eligible. In addition, eligible businesses must:

  • be a for-profit company located in the City of Kalamazoo;
  • have 10 employees or fewer;
  • have annual revenue of $1 million or less;
  • been in existence for one year or longer; and
  • need working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

The KMEG program has a goal of increasing access to funds for populations who have historically not had access to traditional grant and lending sources. In an effort to remedy these disparities, BIPOC-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, and businesses located within the Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo neighborhoods of Eastside, Edison, and Northside are highly encouraged to apply. In addition to this emphasis, UWBCKR continues to maintain a commitment to all people, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or physical, mental or developmental abilities.

KMEG funds can be used for, but are not limited to, operational costs (such as rent, mortgage, utilities and other ordinary business expenses), payroll and benefit costs for employees. Recipients must use their grant funds within six months and report back to United Way on how the funds were used.

Eligible businesses can begin applying for grants today at changethestory.org/micro-enterprise-grants. Applications are due by July 5, 2021. A review committee of diverse representatives from business, financial and community groups from across Kalamazoo will review applications and make decisions on funding by July 23, 2021.

For more information about the Kalamazoo Micro-Enterprise Grants, go to changethestory.org, or email smallbusiness@uwbckr.org.

ELECTRONIC MEETING NOTICE - Northside Cultural Business District Authority Board - May 20, 2021

The Northside Cultural Business District Authority Board will meet on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.

This meeting will be conducted electronically in order for members, staff, and the public to comply with the Emergency Order under MCL 333.2253 – Gatherings and Face Mask Order issued by Elizabeth Hertel, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, on May 4, 2021.

Accessing the Meeting

The meeting will be streamed live on the City’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/KalamazooCity/) and YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIgXSSXLSDxThVaaiRMsR5Q).

Members of the public without computer or internet access can listen to the meeting by calling 269.552.6425 and entering Meeting ID 947 7384 7052 when prompted.

Public Input and Participating in the Meeting

Persons who wish to contact members of the Northside Cultural Business District Authority Board to provide input about items on the meeting agenda or to make general comments may do so on May 20th between 5:30 p.m. and the end of the public comment period by calling 269.226.6573 and leaving a recording.

Instructions for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities who need accommodations to effectively participate in City Commission meetings should contact the City Clerk’s Office at cokcityclerk@kalamazoocity.org by 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 18th to request assistance.

The live stream of this meeting on the City’s Facebook page will feature Closed Captioning in real time. After the meeting a recording with Closed Captioning will be available on both the City’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

City of Kalamazoo and Kzoo Parks to Host Open House event at Public Safety Headquarters

Event will include drive-in movie, equipment demonstrations by public safety, giveaways and bike and helmet fittings

The City of Kalamazoo and Kzoo Parks will host an open house event on Friday, May 21 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the parking lot at Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) Headquarters located at 150 E Crosstown Pkwy in Kalamazoo. 

The event will include equipment demonstrations from public safety staff including a fire engine. Kids can bring their helmets and bicycles to the event for assistance getting them fitted from public safety officers. 

At 7 p.m. a drive-in style movie will be shown on the Kzoo Parks digital video screen. The movie will be chosen by popular vote. Community members can vote for one of four movies through Friday, May 14 at 12 p.m. at https://forms.gle/6viCgRf2Su1tP7Ur5. Kzoo Parks will also offer giveaways matching the theme of the movie.

Attendees should continue to be cautious and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines including social distancing, wearing face coverings, frequently washing or sanitizing hands, covering coughs or sneezes, and staying home if they are feeling sick or have been around anyone exposed to COVID-19. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available at the event to help ensure attendees can protect themselves against COVID-19. This event is free, and all community members are welcome.

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.

Contact

 hello@kalamazoocity.org
 3-1-1
 (269) 337-8000
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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