Commission approves expansion per recommendations of emergency funding task force, qualifying business in all Wayne County communities can now apply

DETROIT, MI- Thursday, the Wayne County Commission approved expanding the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund to expand the program as demand increases throughout the County. The Commission voted 13-0, with two abstentions, to support of allocating an additional $2 million from the County's General Fund increasing the breadth of the program and increasing its potential funding to $14 million.

"Small businesses provide the economic backbone of many Wayne County communities, yet they don't have the resources larger companies have in these unprecedented times. That's why we needed to step up and offer some much-needed assistance," said County Commission Chair Alisha Bell (D-Detroit).

Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans originally announced the program on March 25 in a $10 million partnership with TCF Bank. Under the original framework, the program provides low-interest loans of up to $50,000 to eligible businesses. While the program was initially targeting small business in low-income Census tracts, today's allocation by the Commission expands funds to businesses beyond those tracts and draws an additional $2 million in matching funds from TCF.

"I'm proud to say, that in a week, businesses have already been approved and are receiving funds," Evans said. "This program helps ensure that businesses are ready to reopen when it is determined they can do so safely. I would like to thank TCF and the County Commission for recognizing the urgency and taking additional action."

In just over a week, more than 350 businesses inquired about the program yet only 200 met eligibility criteria. Of those who qualified, 41 have submitted applications requesting a total of nearly $1.5 million. The first payments under the program began this week.

"We have had a tremendous response to the program since our announcement last week," said Gary Torgow, Chairman of TCF Financial Corporation. "We are grateful to the County and Commission for partnering on this program expansion which will give more small businesses the opportunity to access funds to take care of their many obligations."

While recent federal government programs have been enacted to help small businesses, Wayne County and TCF realized this program would provide needed relief and ensure small businesses are able to pay wages, rent and utilities.

"COVID-19 stopped all revenue coming in for so many businesses, but it didn't stop the bills," Evans added. "The surge of applications reflects that reality and the demand that is out there throughout the County."

Chair Bell authorized the creation of the Emergency Funding for Small Businesses and Non-Profit Agencies Task Force after suggestions from Commissioners Glenn S. Anderson (D-Westland) and Al Haidous (D-Wayne). Haidous serves as task force co-chair with Commissioner Ilona Varga (D-Lincoln Park).

Both Anderson and Haidous suggested expanding the program previously approved for businesses in low-income areas to assure that small businesses throughout Wayne County would be covered.

"Working together in Wayne County has always been a remedy to resolving difficult situations and even though this is trying and unfortunate for all, and one I hope none of us experience again, I am confident that we will emerge stronger as a county overall," said Bell.

In addition to Commissioners Anderson, Haidous and Varga, the Task Force includes: Commissioners Sam Baydoun (D-Dearborn), Melissa Daub (D-Canton), Terry Marecki (R-Livonia) and Martha G. Scott (D-Highland Park).

In today's vote, Commissioner Scott and Commissioner Monique Baker McCormick (D-Detroit) abstained.