Success Story: Rising Above a Crisis
The Flint water crisis rocked Flint, Michigan to its core and led to multiple challenges. Businesses saw poor sales as a result of negative publicity and had to endure increased costs to cover equipment damaged by the city’s contaminated water supply.
Along with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, the Chamber created the Moving Flint Forward initiative. Through a strategic partnership with Huntington Bank and FlintNOW, an initiative formed by Detroit Pistons Owner Tom Gores, we were able to provide immediate aid to support small and minority-owned businesses that were impacted by the water emergency.
The Moving Flint Forward Small Business Grant Program was created as a groundbreaking tool to help small businesses whose operations were impacted by the crisis.
Small businesses such as salons, restaurants, cleaners, daycare centers, etc. have used funds for water filtration systems and to repair damaged equipment. Funding has also been used for a marketing campaign to combat the effects of negative press.
As part of the grant program, business applicants are required to complete a business plan with support from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They were also required to use other resources such as training and were connected to providers of business loans.
At the time of publication, 185 applications had been received and 99 small businesses had shared $874,890 in grants.
The Chamber continues to seek further funding to support this program due to overwhelmingly positive feedback from recipients.
Another silver lining is that the Chamber has had the opportunity to recognize needs and challenges outside of the water crisis. Many small businesses do not regularly interact with the Chamber. and this program provided an opportunity to set the stage for further conversations and interactions, thereby reaching new audiences and enticing them to join.