IKEA gives $1.2 million to state response fund: Business Accelerator Fund adds $700K

MARQUETTE — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday welcomed a $1.2 million donation from IKEA Retail U.S. that will go to Michigan’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Initiative.

The donation is the largest donation to the fund to date and will help support Michigan’s ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts and other critical services, the governor’s office reported.

After Whitmer signed her “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order to protect Michiganders, IKEA closed its retail location in downstate Canton to align with the governor’s order and protect its staff and customers from the virus.

“We are appreciative of the ongoing support from the state of Michigan, including the unemployment funds paid to our coworkers who were furloughed in the early weeks of the pandemic,” said Javier Quinones, IKEA Retail U.S. president, in a news release. “People are the heart of our business, and the state unemployment benefits helped IKEA U.S. coworkers during a difficult time.

“We now have a better understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our business, and we’ve decided to ‘pay it forward’ to support the ongoing COVID-19 Response and Recovery Initiative in our local communities.”

The Michigan COVID-19 Response and Recovery Initiative helps leverage federal resources, including Federal Emergency Management Agency funds, that require a match to provide critical services and needs to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donations are allocated to provide food and water, education support for children, personal protective equipment and other essential activities as needs are identified.

Additional business funds approved

The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved the transfer of an additional $700,000 to the Business Accelerator Fund. This follows the expansion of the Business Accelerator Fund guidelines from April through June, which allowed it to serve 53 companies in the state.

The funds are to continue supporting business accelerators in Michigan’s statewide SmartZone network that are serving startups and high-tech companies impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced on Tuesday.

“The level of innovation and resilience that Michigan’s entrepreneurs and high-tech startups have demonstrated over the past five months in the face of a worldwide pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring,” said Fred Molnar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at MEDC, in a statement. “By working with our trusted partners at the Small Business Development Center, we are ensuring Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has the support and resources it needs to maintain and even continue growing throughout this crisis.”

Funded by the MSF and administered by the Michigan Small Business Development Center, the BAF provides a series of grants of up to $50,000 to business accelerators to help high-tech businesses access certain specialized services they need to grow.

The BAF expansion in April led to the additional support for seven companies developing advanced technology that directly supports the state’s COVID-19 response. These technologies ranged from oral vaccine development and 3D lung imaging to patient screening approaches, all of which could be applied to address the public health impacts of COVID-19.

The high demand for BAF program support in recent months has led to the depletion of the $1.43 million in BAF funds as of July. As a result, the MSF board on Tuesday approved the transfer of $700,000 from the Emerging Technologies Fund, a matching program for federal funds that have significantly declined in 2020.

The ETF will apply for replacement funding once the federal funds begin to be awarded again.

Youth police academy canceled

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office canceled its Youth Police Academy scheduled for the fall. It plans to conduct the event in 2021.

The eight-week community outreach program gives youth interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement a better understanding of the profession, organizers said.

NMU dashboard numbers updated

According to the Northern Michigan University COVID-19 reporting dashboard, there were 36 positive cases — 24 on-campus students, nine off-campus students and three employees, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Out of 150 beds set aside for quarantine and isolation, 66 were filled as of Tuesday afternoon.

The dashboard can be accessed at nmu.edu/safe-on-campus/.

Meijer seasonal hunger relief donation program extended due to pandemic

Meijer announced Tuesday that its seasonal hunger relief program, Simply Give, will conduct back-to-back fall and holiday campaigns “to ensure the maximum amount of support for food pantries trying to keep up with increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” according to a news release.

“We recognize the strain the global pandemic is putting on our communities and we see it reflected in the difficulties our food pantry partners face as they work to keep their shelves stocked,” Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes said in the release. “By extending our Simply Give campaigns to run the remainder of the year, we are making it easier for our customers to support their neighbors in need and increasing our commitment to ending hunger across our footprint.”

The fall Simply Give campaign will run for nine weeks. It started Sunday and will end Oct. 24, which is a four-week extension over previous fall campaigns. The holiday campaign will start immediately following the end of the fall campaign and run for the remainder of the year to continue to provide relief to local food pantries throughout the holiday season.

Each Simply Give campaign replenishes the shelves of more than 250 food pantries in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

“Food pantries continue to struggle as they manage the flood of requests they receive daily, especially given the difficult circumstances many families now face amidst the global pandemic,” Cathy Cooper, senior director of Community Partnerships and Giving for Meijer, said in the release. “Simply Give is a way for Meijer customers to partner with us and support the food banks and pantries that feed families in need in their own communities. We certainly couldn’t do it without the support and commitment of our generous customers and team members, who stand beside us in this effort.”

The program encourages customers to purchase $10 Simply Give donation cards, which are then converted into Meijer food-only gift cards and given to a local food pantry in the store’s community. Each new campaign gives Meijer stores the opportunity to partner with a different local pantry to serve their community.

The fall campaign will feature two “double match days” on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12. Meijer will double match every $10 donation card a customer purchases on those days, so that an additional $20 is added to the donation, tripling the impact of the contribution.

Meijer already donated more than $3 million to its food pantry partners this year, the release states. Since the Simply Give program began in November 2008, more than $57 million has been generated for food pantries in the Midwest.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net


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