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Whitmer Announces New Data Showing Record Small Business Growth


May 16, 2022


Gov. Whitmer Announces New Data Showing Record Small Business Growth

Michigan had fastest small business job growth in 23 years, added 170,000 jobs in first three quarters


LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer highlighted new data showing Michigan’s economic jumpstart continues as small businesses in the state are experiencing tremendous growth and expansion. In the first three quarters of 2021 alone, small businesses with fewer than 50 employees created almost 170,000 jobs, the fastest start to small business job growth in 23 years, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information. The state also saw an explosion of entrepreneurs and business owners beginning new ventures in 2021, with 150,000 new small business applications filed to start businesses, which is 59% more than in 2019.


“Small businesses form the backbone of Michigan’s economy and are the anchors of communities across the state. Through tough times, they’ve shown grit and innovation to continue getting things done for their customers and employees,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Recent data shows that entrepreneurs are fired up, starting tens of thousands of businesses and creating nearly 170,000 jobs. While the numbers are encouraging, we must build on this momentum by making investments to retain and recruit more workers, expand operations, and attract additional investment. Together, let’s keep getting things done for Michigan’s booming small business community.”


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Michigan is home to 902,000 small businesses, with 1.9 million small business employees, representing 48.3 % of Michigan workers. 99.6% of Michigan businesses are defined as small businesses with fewer than 500 employees.


“The entrepreneurial spirit is thriving in Michigan,” said J.D. Collins, CEO of Michigan Small Business Development Center, a statewide resource for small businesses. “Our consultants are experiencing a record number of start-up ventures and businesses in generational transition. We need the continued support of programs such as the MI New Economy Plan to ensure that Michigan is the best place to start and grow a business.”


Governor Whitmer remains committed to supporting small businesses as Michigan continues growing its economy. Recently, the governor laid out a $2.1 billion proposal to grow Michigan's middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities. As Michigan's economy grows, bolstered by a multi-billion-dollar surplus and increasing momentum, Governor Whitmer's proposals will tackle underlying issues faced by small businesses and make bold investments needed to create economic prosperity for all.


  • Governor Whitmer laid out her MI New Economy, a $2.1 billion plan to grow Michigan's middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities.
  • $500 million to build on the Michigan Mainstreet Initiative, which offers grants to restaurants, place-based businesses, and microenterprises with further dollars to attract more start-ups.  
  • $200 million to create a more conducive business environment for high-tech, high-growth start-ups and create jobs of the future in Michigan.  
  • Added 220,000 jobs in 2021, drove down unemployment and took Michigan from a projected $3 billion deficit to a $7 billion surplus.  
  • Enacted a bipartisan tax cut for small businesses, enabling them to grow and create jobs.  
  • Signed a Buy Michigan executive directive to increase state procurement and contracts with small and geographically disadvantaged businesses.
  • Signed the bipartisan Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve (SOAR) package, which supports business by fully funding a competitive economic development toolkit to help make Michigan a national leader in business attraction. 
  • Launched over $400 million to support small businesses through Growing MI Business grants.
  • In partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Governor implemented 23 economic relief programs for businesses, supporting more than 25,000 companies and retaining more than 200,000 jobs, and provided $100 million through the Small Business Restart Program to help restaurants and other place-based businesses cover costs by providing grants up to $20,000 for mortgage, rent, taxes, payroll and other operating expenses.  


The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity is focused on connecting talent to businesses and providing employers with worker resources. Initiatives include:

  • Tuition-Free Degrees and Certificates: Governor Whitmer launched a new, first in nation scholarship program that resulted in over 80,000 essential, frontline worker applicants on a tuition-free path. Whitmer also launched Michigan Reconnect so Michiganders 25 or older will have an opportunity to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate. To date, over 96,000 Michiganders have applied.
  • Going PRO Talent Fund. Since the program's 2014 launch, Going PRO Talent Fund has provided training for 150,000 Michigan workers at more than 3,200 small businesses. Due to the program’s popularity with employers, Governor Whitmer has shown strong support for the initiative by including robust funding for the program in her budget requests.
  • Apprenticeship Expansion: Creating benefits for employers and career seekers through on-the-job learning focused on new industry sectors and increasing the diversity of participants by recruiting groups historically underrepresented. Federal grants will help Michigan create more than 6,000 new apprentices over the next few years.
  • MI Tri-Share Child Care Program: This innovative public private partnership works to increase access to high-quality, affordable child care for working families while helping retain and attract talent. Tri-Share now covers 52 counties in Michigan plus the City of Detroit.  


“While these numbers are indicative of a strong comeback, our work of supporting small businesses through talent programs, employer resources, and the governor’s MI New Economy plan continues to be critical to Michigan’s long-term economic success,” said Susan Corbin, Director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.


The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) shares a commitment to supporting the success of the small businesses that make up the backbone of the state’s economy. Since October 2020, MEDC has assisted small businesses in all 83 counties with more than $73.7 million in funding, helping more than 560 new businesses start up and helping small businesses generate more than $4.3 billion in new revenue. This support builds on the 23 targeted response and relief programs launched during COVID to support 25,000 businesses across all 83 counties, helping to retain 200,000 jobs during the pandemic. 


“No business is small to those who are putting it all on the line, and so we remain focused on creating pathways and opportunities for our entrepreneurs to realize their vision,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “The strength of our economy is directly tied to the success of our small businesses and through the MI New Economy plan we will continue our commitment to efforts to ensure these ventures can thrive here in Michigan.”


From access to capital and mentorship support to networking connections and international growth, MEDC proudly supports the growth and success of small businesses across all corners of the state with a new Small Business Services leadership position and team within the organization and with programs including:

  • Pure Michigan Business Connect. PMBC is a free service that brings small to medium-sized Michigan businesses together with local, national and global companies for supply chain sourcing opportunities.
  • International Trade Services. MEDC offers assistance to help small businesses start or expand export activities to help grow their business.
  • Access to Capital. These programs can help small business throughout Michigan receive loans from banks and lending institutions by working directly with lenders who in turn can provide transitional financing critical to helping small businesses receive the capital they need to grow.
  • Early Stage Funding. MEDC’s Entrepreneurial & Innovation initiative helps high-tech entrepreneurs find the early stage funding critical to the success of startup companies.
  • Micro Business Development Program. This incentive program is designed to provide grants, loans and other economic assistance to small businesses that create jobs and/or provide investment in the state.
  • Match on Main. A small business grant program for eligible businesses in Certified Redevelopment Ready or Michigan Main Street communities to provide up to $25,000 for interior and exterior renovations and working capital.


To learn more about these programs and small business resources visit: