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Despite grant, northern Michigan tourism business to suffer

Matt McCauley is CEO of Networks Northwest, an organization focused on workforce development, business & economic development, and community development for the 10 counties of northwest lower Michigan.

A $500,000 grant from the state will support businesses in the 10 counties of northwest lower Michigan affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

About that same amount is also available through a new loan program from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.


“This grant and loan program will contribute to our region’s economic resiliency and eventual recovery,” says Networks Northwest CEO Matt McCauley. “This program will likely provide upwards of one million dollars to businesses in this region as a means to support households and communities alike.”

It’s the first of several expected relief actions meant to help small businesses during the pandemic. 

Even though the coronavirus is affecting all areas of Michigan economically, McCauley says northern Michigan will be hit particularly hard because of the area’s dependence on tourism.

“This is the time of year that many households would normally be sitting around the kitchen table and planning out their family vacation,” says McCauley. “Many households right now are simply unable to think about the plans necessary for those vacations in 2020.”

Despite the slowdown for many employers and workers in the region, a few companies are seeing growth in the midst of the crisis.

“What comes to mind are certain retail and grocery operations,” says McCauley. "Many of those are in need of additional help right now.”

He says there’s also a number of manufacturers who are producing a product that’s in higher demand right now due to the coronavirus. 

McCauley says he thinks a difference in the current economic downturn compared to the one in 2009, is its widespread nature. It’s affecting all areas of business, rather than certain industries.

“I anticipate that many of the programs and resources coming down the pipe from both Lansing and (Washington) D.C. will be far more generalized than what we saw in 2009 with that recession,” he says.

For more information regarding the State of Michigan’s resources relative to COVID-19, click here.  

Dan Wanschura is the Host and Executive Producer of Points North.