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Gov. Whitmer Announces New Small Business Support Hubs to Provide Comprehensive Resources, Grants to State’s Small Businesses


June 27, 2023 



Gov. Whitmer Announces New Small Business Support Hubs to Provide Comprehensive Resources, Grants to State’s Small Businesses


LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to announce the new Small Business Support Hubs program aimed at investing in the state’s small business ecosystem. In Michigan, small business growth has surged with 137,000 new small business applications submitted in 2022.


“Ensuring our small businesses are positioned to grow and create good jobs across Michigan is critical as we continue to grow Michigan’s economy and build a brighter future for our residents,” Governor Whitmer said. “Thriving small businesses are vital to our state’s economy, and these federal funds will provide economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs and small businesses with timely financing to build up their business, create jobs for their friends and neighbors and support their community’s vibrancy along the way.”


Small Business Support Hubs will bring new and more comprehensive resources to small businesses across the state by providing funding to entrepreneurial hubs for operations, programming, and direct support to small businesses. The program will provide up to $6 million in funding to entrepreneurial hubs to invest in regional operations, deployment of a variety of business support services, as well as direct grant support to small businesses who were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.


The goals of the program are to:

  • Support small businesses disproportionately impacted by COVID-19;
  • Cultivate a more inclusive, accessible and integrated tech and small business entrepreneurial ecosystem;
  • Increase the number of businesses served through new programming, technical assistance, and support services;
  • Increase awareness of Michigan’s small business ecosystem;
  • Expand the geographic reach of network partners into underserved communities and rural areas;
  • Raise the national profile of Michigan’s small business ecosystem.


Eligible applicants are entities that identify as an entrepreneurial hub with physical spaces that provide entrepreneurs with training and resources including one-on-one coaching, consultations, workshops, seminars, incubation activities, and networking and mentorship opportunities and events.


The program received approval today by the Michigan Strategic Fund. In February, the Michigan legislature passed into law the $75 million Small Business Smart  Zones and Business Accelerators initiative. This is a one-time appropriation using American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) funds to create and operate programs to support small businesses disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 


This concept was initially conceived as part of a series of COVID-19 relief efforts for small businesses under Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s MI New Economy Plan in 2021 and shaped by stakeholder engagement in March and April of this year, led by the MEDC. The team conducted more than 13 virtual feedback sessions that included 120 organizations and individuals representing SmartZones and other entrepreneurial hubs, business service organizations, community development financial institutions, small business owners and independent consultants.


The Michigan Strategic Fund will select grantees through an open and competitive application process. Applications will be accepted from July 10, 2023 to September 8, 2023. Detailed information will be provided to all interested parties via a webinar on July 11 from 9:30–10:30 a.m. EST and the recording will be made available following the event. More information can be found on


Michigan continues to receive national attention for its proactive and innovative efforts to support small business opportunities and resources. Last year, Michigan was among the first states to receive early funding through the federal government’s second round of the State Small Business Credit Initiative. Earlier this month, Team Michigan continued to attract national recognition for its efforts to support equitable opportunities for small businesses when it was invited by the White House to participate in the Roundtable on Increasing Capital to Entrepreneurs of Color, which focused on ways to support small business ownership and democratize access to capital in underserved communities.


“This roundtable provided Michigan with the opportunity to join national colleagues, as well as corporate and philanthropic leaders to discuss the opportunity to better leverage public-private investments and facilitate equitable access to capital through SSBCI, a $10 Billion, once-in-a-lifetime investment into underrepresented entrepreneurs across the country.” said MEDC Sr. Vice President of Small Business Amy Rencher. 


Michigan Innovate Capital Fund Program will provide support to Michigan’s high-tech startups


The Michigan Strategic Fund also approved the new Michigan Innovate Capital Fund Program, which will award incentives to nonprofit organizations that operate fund programs to invest in pre-seed and startup stage competitive edge technologies that require capital in the earliest stages of the commercialization process. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate an ability and willingness to invest in high growth technology-based companies that are primarily in the earliest stages of commercialization. 


Nonprofits that have previously received financial support from MSF or MEDC are eligible to apply; those that have not received previous funding from MSF or MEDC but deploy capital exclusively in the state of Michigan and can demonstrate how they will use funding to create jobs and drive sustained, long-term growth are also eligible. Preference will be given to nonprofits based in underserved locations and that clearly address the funding gap in underrepresented industries.


The program received a $23 million allocation from the Jobs for Michigan investment fund and awards of up to $5 million will be made to qualifying organizations. The goal of the program is to continue growing a vibrant and robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state, creating an environment that supports the attraction and retention of venture-backed competitive edge technology companies in Michigan.


The program builds on the Michigan Small Business Venture Capital Program, which utilizes $75 million in SSBCI 2.0 funds to increase the availability of capital to early-stage, technology-based businesses aligned with the MEDC Strategic Plan. The program invests as a limited partner in venture capital funds operating in the state who, in turn, fund qualified for-profit early-stage, technology-based businesses helping to support those businesses and continue to grow Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem overall.


“Our small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy, and here in Michigan, we’re committed to doing all we can to provide the support, resources and opportunities they need to grow and thrive. The programs approved today are yet two more examples of how we’re working to invest in the small businesses and entrepreneurs in our state,” said MEDC Sr. Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fredrick Molnar. “We’re grateful to the Michigan legislature, the Michigan Strategic Fund and the entire Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration in supporting these programs. Work remains, but we will continue working to lift up our entrepreneurs and encourage businesses of all sizes to make it in Michigan.”