Start Garden giving $300K in grants to support entrepreneurs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Start Garden, an organization that backs West Michigan startups, is launching a program to distribute $300,000 among entrepreneurs whose businesses are threatened by coronavirus closures.

Organizers are calling it “The 100 Comeback,” a revamped version of the annual Start Garden 100 competition.

Start Garden explained that the grant initiative isn’t a small business relief fund. Instead, the money should be used for owners to support themselves and their families as they work to keep their businesses afloat.

“Our community, our residents and entrepreneurship itself is in crisis right now,” Start Garden co-director Jorge Gonzalez said in a Friday statement. “While most federal and state relief is about a business and its employees, none address the entrepreneurs who didn’t have the time to grow their business to the point that their own families are supported for the next few months.”

Between 8 a.m. April 7 and noon April 11, applicants should submit a 100-second video to explaining:

  • What their household needs to get through the next few month.
  • A little about the business: How long it has been open, what it does and who the customers are.
  • How the COVID-19 shutdown impacted the business.

Applicants must:

  • Have a demonstrated personal need.
  • Be able to verify their business was shut down, or severely impacted, as a result of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.
  • Be able to verify the business has a loyal customer base.
  • Be located in Kent County.

Start Garden is aiming to choose recipients and send out one-time payments in mid-April. The amount each person gets will depend on need.

You can also contribute to The 100 Comeback on Start Garden’s website.