The Velocity Center in Sterling Heights is seeking a $3.3 million Small Business Support Hub Grant,
which would increase its ability to help small and medium-sized businesses in Macomb County.
The announcement was made at Velocity’s Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting on Oct. 3.
The grant, part of the Michigan Strategic Fund, is intended to create entrepreneurial hubs in support of small businesses that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to COVID-19 affected businesses, the objectives of the grant include:
- Strengthening and/or establishing locally relevant, regionally based ecosystems to cultivate a more inclusive, accessible and effective entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- Positioning small business support hubs to increase the number of businesses served through new and scaled programming, technical assistance and other support services.
- Increase access to regional, statewide and national small business support resources
- Expand geographic reach of network partners into underserved and rural areas
- Raise the national profile of Michigan’s small business ecosystem
If Velocity were to receive the grant, benefits include providing support services to a broader range of businesses, bring in additional staff or capacity, furniture, fixtures, equipment and technology.
“If we get this grant, it will truly turn Velocity into a one-stop shop for all entrepreneurs, regardless of sector and also regardless of where they are in their lifecycle,” said April Boyle, senior advisor for entrepreneurship and innovation and interim director of Velocity. “This will give us the opportunity to build capacity in our staff so that we can truly reach every municipality.”
Boyle envisions having offsite, scaled Velocity centers throughout Macomb County, and being awarded the grant would allow that to happen. Boyle said Velocity is in conversation with the cities of Roseville, Eastpointe and Mount Clemens.
Boyle said the grant would also help Velocity deliver one-on-one coach, assistance and mentorship from its entrepreneur in residence (EIR) Rick Venet, more workshops, seminars and classes, incubator/accelerator services, and more networking and other events.
If it were to receive the grant, Velocity would need to have all of the money contracted in the first year, but would have three years to spend down the money. The grant would also provide $200,000-$300,000 to award to local entrepreneurs, but the money would have to be tied directly to cohorts or technical assistance.
Boyle said the grant applications are currently in the review phase. Awardees will be announced in December.
Velocity also used the luncheon to announce partnerships made in aerospace and defense and other upcoming events.
- The first-ever Defense and Donuts meeting was held, with the second meeting set for Nov. 16. The group will discuss Department of Defense-related topics.
- Velocity has joined the Air & Space Forces Association (AFA) as a Wingman sponsor, which will provide more opportunities to network with DoD professionals. The AFA will bring a presentation to Velocity in spring 2024.
- Velocity will also play host to Founders First Fridays, with the Michigan Founders Fund, which will take place the first Friday of every month between 10 a.m.-noon. The series will offer founders and entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect, collaborate, and join forces on a monthly basis.
Don Gardner is a communications specialist for Macomb County Planning and Economic Development.