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Small business grant funds approved: Noquemanon Ski Marathon going virtual this year due to pandemic; some tax deadlines extended

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Strategic Fund on Thursday approved two grant programs — the Michigan Small Business Survival Grants and the Michigan Stages Survival Grants — totaling $58.5 million in relief to help meet the urgent needs of small businesses and live event venues impacted by the COVID-19 virus, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced.

The state of Michigan appropriated the funds through Senate Bill 748, signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Dec. 29, to implement the programs to support Michigan’s small businesses that have been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

“From the beginning, my administration has been deeply committed to providing some crucial support to Michigan’s small businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “With these grant programs, we can provide immediate assistance to those businesses. As we work to distribute the safe and effective vaccine and end the pandemic once and for all, I will continue to partner with leaders across the state to provide relief for our small businesses and their employees.”

The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program will provide $55 million in grants to meet the needs of Michigan small businesses that have experienced a significant financial hardship due to the recent COVID-19 emergency orders regarding gatherings and wearing of face masks.

Grants of up to $20,000 will be awarded to businesses that are fully closed, with grants of up to $15,000 awarded to businesses that have been partially closed, or otherwise are open and can demonstrate an impact.

MSF also approved the $3.5 million Michigan Stages Survival Grant Program, which will provide up to $40,000 in one-time grants to eligible Michigan live music and entertainment venues that have experienced a significant financial hardship because of the pandemic.

The Michigan Small Business Survival Grant Program is intended to meet the urgent need of Michigan businesses that have experienced a significant financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency “gatherings and face mask order” issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in December.

The Michigan Small Business Survival Grants will be administered by 15 local or nonprofit economic development organizations covering all 83 Michigan counties. A single, statewide application for the program will be live at michiganbusiness.org/survival from 9 a.m. Tuesday through noon Jan. 22. Grants will be reviewed and awarded by the EDOs based on eligibility requirements as well as local priorities and objectives, not on a first-come, first-served basis.

Businesses must meet the following eligibility requirements:

≤ had one to 100 employees, including full-time, part-time and owner/employees, on a worldwide basis on Nov. 17;

≤ is in an industry that demonstrates it is affected by the MDHHS epidemic orders;

≤ needs working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses;

≤ can demonstrate an income loss as a result of the order as determined by the EDO in which an eligible business is located; and

≤ is not a live music and entertainment venue that is eligible for the Michigan Stage Survival grant program.

Individual EDOs may have additional eligibility requirements, which businesses will be able to access from the michiganbusiness.org/survival landing page. EDOs will also have discretion on grant awards up to the maximum of $20,000 for businesses that are fully closed and $15,000 to businesses that have been partially closed, or otherwise are open and can demonstrate an impact.

Regional EDO InvestUP was awarded $2.5 million for all 15 U.P. counties.

The michiganbusiness. org/survival landing page will also provide businesses with resources to prepare their applications, including the application questions and a tutorial video detailing all steps.

Businesses must have an account set up in ConnectSpace to submit an application, also linked on the landing page, which can be established prior to applying. For the convenience of applicants, an electronic queue system will also be in effect once again with businesses entering the queue prior to entry into the application.

Businesses will be able to sign up to receive an alert when they have reached the front of the queue, and all applicants who are in the queue by noon Jan. 22 will have an opportunity to complete the application and be considered for funding.

A full list of grant awardees will be available on michiganbusiness.org/ survival.

The Michigan Stages Survival Grant Program will provide a total of $3.5 million in one-time grants of up to $40,000 to eligible entertainment venues throughout Michigan. These funds are to be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or costs related to reopening a business.

The application will be available at www.michiganbusiness.org/stages starting at 9 a.m. Thursday to noon Jan. 28. The Michigan Independent Venue and Promoter Association will be responsible for accepting, reviewing and approving applications by Feb. 28. The MEDC will distribute the grant funds based on the recommendation of the MIVPA.

Venues must meet eligibility requirements that include

≤ be located in Michigan;

≤ produce and/or present live, disciplined-based performance experiences;

≤ demonstrate at least 33% of 2019 gross revenues are from the sale of tickets for live music or entertainment events or receive at least 70% of its earned revenue through cover charges or tickets sales, production fees or production reimbursements, nonprofit educational initiatives or the sale of event beverages, food or merchandise;

≤ demonstrate second-quarter revenues from April 1-June 30 were not greater than 10% of second-quarter revenue from April 1-June 30, 2019; and

≤ employ less than 30 full-time employees.

A full list of application and eligibility requirements is available at michiganbusiness.org/stages. A full list of grant awardees will be available at michiganbusiness.org/stages.

“We continue to stay focused on both immediate relief efforts, and also ensuring we have a runway for economic recovery in the coming year through existing efforts around business retention and growth, supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem and creating vibrant communities throughout Michigan,” MEDC CEO Mark A. Burton said in a statement.

Noque going virtual

Because of the COVID-19 situation, the Noquemanon Ski Marathon is becoming the Virtual Noque this year.

Details of the full and half Noque races are available at www.noquemanon.com.

All other scheduled events, such as the Junior Noque, 12K, 10K/5K snowshoe, adaptive and skijoring races, have been canceled. Races had been scheduled for Jan. 22-24.

Participants will be mailed their bibs, hats and other promotional items and must complete their ski between today and Jan. 30 to be eligible for prizes.

The Noquemanon will offer a route with the Noquemanon Trail Network, and partnering races in other areas will do the same on their trails. Virtual skiers cannot use the Forestville section in-person while the Noque is in session from Jan. 22-24 to reduce the number of people on the trails. Forestville parking is limited to only those registered from an in-person wave race from Jan. 22-24.

Participants may upload their times to a link on the race website to be eligible for raffle prizes, with results posted by midnight Jan. 31.

Virtual participants are not eligible for age group or overall awards due to varying course opportunities and weather variations.

More time for taxes

Businesses that require social gatherings for customers and have experienced disrupted operations due to COVID-19 epidemic orders now have more time to make monthly or quarterly sales, use and withholding tax payments, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Restaurants that depend on indoor dining and most entertainment and recreational venues scheduled to make sales, use and withholding tax payments for December and January or for the last quarter of 2020 can postpone filing and payment requirements until Feb. 20. The state Treasury Department will waive all penalties and interest for 33 days.

“Businesses impacted by COVID-19 have made incredible sacrifices to protect their communities, their employees and their customers,” Whitmer said in a statement. “From the beginning, my administration has been working around the clock to provide our businesses with some crucial support as we work to end the pandemic, and I will continue to do so long after we beat this virus.

“Remember, Michiganders: Mask up, practice safe social distancing and avoid indoor gatherings where the virus can spread easily from person to person. We will get through this together.”

State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said the department will use a variety of options to assist affected businesses.

“Moving the sales, use and withholding tax deadlines can provide these businesses critical time to figure out the next steps as we continue to move forward,” she said in a statement.

On Dec. 8, the state Treasury Department first announced tax assistance for certain businesses affected by COVID-19 epidemic orders.

The waiver is not available for accelerated sales, use or withholding tax filers. Businesses with questions about this tax assistance should call 517-636-6925.

The 2020 Sales, Use and Withholding Tax Annual Return — Form 5081 — remains due Feb. 28.

To learn more about Michigan’s taxes, go to /www.michigan.gov/taxes/ or follow the state Treasury Department on Twitter at @MITreasury.

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

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