Ruth Mott Foundation awards $100K to Genesee Chamber Foundation for grants to Black-owned businesses in north Flint

FLINT — The Ruth Mott Foundation has awarded $100,000 to help Black-owned businesses in north Flint that suffered economic hardship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant will be made to the Genesee Chamber Foundation, a supporting organization of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. The Ruth Mott Foundation funds will add support to the Chamber’s Restart Flint & Genesee Grant Program, a special recovery program for small businesses in Genesee County significantly impacted by Gov. Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive orders. The Ruth Mott Foundation funds are for grants of up to $5,000 for Black-owned north Flint businesses that meet eligibility criteria.

“Small businesses are the building blocks of our neighborhoods and now they’re facing a crisis that is unprecedented in our lifetime. This hardship is particularly felt in north Flint among businesses in the Black community, which has been disproportionately affected by coronavirus,” said Raquel Thueme, president of the Ruth Mott Foundation and member of the Greater Flint Coronavirus Taskforce on Racial Inequities. “These funds will provide urgent relief to help them begin to safely reopen.”

The funds are targeted toward businesses hit hardest by the executive orders to close, including, but not limited to, barbershops/salons, bars & restaurants, retail, construction & landscaping, childcare, tattoo parlors, and senior facilities.

The grants are for activities and purchases to help businesses safely reopen under guidelines and requirements for social distancing and the health of workers and patrons. Examples include personal protection equipment, such as masks and gloves; cleaning services or supplies; new point of sale systems for carryout and/or online purchases; or physical improvements to create space for social distancing.

The Restart Flint & Genesee Grant Program application can be easily accessed on the Flint & Genesee Chamber’s home page, flintandgenesee.org, along with FAQs and previously recorded webinars.

“Small businesses are often the hardest hit in times of economic shock and disruption, and they struggle to access resources in the aftermath,” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber. “As a place-based philanthropic organization, the Ruth Mott Foundation recognizes that support for small businesses is critical to the health of our local economy. These funds will help the Chamber assist some of the businesses that need it the most.”

Support for small businesses was identified as a priority by residents and adopted by the Ruth Mott Foundation in its strategic plan to help north Flint residents create and sustain opportunities to contribute and thrive. To be considered for Ruth Mott Foundation-funded grants, businesses must be located in the Foundation’s focus area of north Flint, defined as the area north of the Flushing Road/5th Avenue/Robert T. Longway Boulevard corridor.

“North Flint business owners made an outstanding commitment to this community by opening and maintaining small business operations – no easy feat under normal circumstances,” said Lawrence E. Moon, Ruth Mott Foundation trustee and owner of Lawrence E. Moon Funeral Home in north Flint. “Now they’ve been hit by a global pandemic that upended their lives, both personally and professionally. These much-needed funds will help them protect their patrons, their workers, and their neighborhoods.”

The eligibility criteria include:

Must be locally owned, no national franchises or chains.

Business must be in good standing as of the date of submission.

Business must be under Black ownership.

Priority is given to industries hit hardest by the executive orders to close.

Must have 50 employees or fewer.

Must demonstrate economic hardship and provide a narrative on challenges faced, proposed uses of funds, and how the business is critical to developing a sense of place for residents.

Restart Flint & Genesee Grant Program was launched with $200,000 from Consumers Energy Foundation for small businesses in Genesee County and also received $262,500 from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to support Black-owned small businesses in Flint. — G.G.