Eighty-two years after Cherryland Electric Cooperative was formed to bring electricity to rural areas, the Cooperative is rising to another challenge by providing a grant of $50,000 to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The grant will support the new Regional Resiliency Fund (RRF), created to provide much-needed grants ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 to businesses with nine or fewer employees in Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau Counties. The program is administered by Venture North that provides capital to support business and job growth in a ten-county region. Venture North works with advisors in each of the counties who encourage applications to the RRF, provide recommendations about funding, and help with the development of additional funding for the program.

The program began with a grant of $200,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation that supported the first RRF grant round completed in early June.  The $50,000 grant from Cherryland will be allocated as grants to businesses in the second RRF grant round in early July.

“Our region’s business community and the almost 2,500 businesses served by Cherryland are not immune to the effects of the pandemic,” said Tony Anderson, general manager at Cherryland. “Under normal circumstances, we’d be ramping up for the busiest time of the year. Instead, many businesses are struggling just to stay afloat.”

“The RRF relies on grants and charitable donations to make grants to keep businesses open and operating safely,” said Venture North Executive Director Laura Galbraith.  “We are also able to help small businesses apply for funding that still exists under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  We’ll gladly spend time with small businesses to help them apply to either of the grant programs.”

Galbraith said both the RRF and PPP monies could be used for similar purposes like payroll, rent or lease expenses, inventory purchases, utility expenses, and others.

“We could not be more grateful to have received this grant from Cherryland Electric Cooperative,” Galbraith said.  “The very businesses that they serve will be the beneficiaries as will the employees, customers, and communities that count on these businesses for products and services they need.”

Cherryland hopes that their contribution will motivate other entities to give to the fund as well. “When your neighbor needs help, you help them,” said Anderson. “This is our opportunity as a business community to lend a hand and provide some stability for those who need it most.” 

Regional Resiliency Program – Quick Facts

  • Purpose: provide grants to small businesses to help offset impacts of COVID pandemic.
  • Geographic Coverage: Benzie, Grand Traverse or Leelanau Counties
  • Eligible Businesses: 9 or fewer employees; funds used to sustain open businesses with a commitment to COVID-19 safety rules and guidelines
  • Eligible Grant Purposes: include but not limited to payroll, rent, lease expense, inventory costs, advertising, and others
  • Next Application Round: Early July – will be broadly announced
  • Other Funding Source: Paycheck Protection Program which has funding for similar purposes like payroll, rent, lease expenses, utilities, inventory purchases, and others. Venture North will help small businesses through the PPP process

Contacts:

Venture North, 202 E. Grandview Parkway, Traverse City, MI 49684 231-995-7110

Email and Phone:

Laura Galbraith:  Email:  laura@venturenorthfunding.org    Cell: 231-357-6776
Tim Ervin, Program Consultant:  Email: timervinassoc@gmail.com    Cell: 231-794-0089
Elise Crafts, Leelanau County: Email: elise@statecraftmi.com   Cell: 231-313-7116
Betsy Evans, Benzie County: Email: 1betsyevans@gmail.com    Cell: 231-383-2798

Learn more about the RRF on the Traverse Connect website.