After 15 months of capacity restrictions, restaurants, entertainment businesses, and other venues can now operate at 100%. Additionally, most mask mandates have been lifted.
While most restrictions are lifted, some basic health department orders outlining COVID-19 protocols for populations at greater risk are still in effect, including testing protocols for prisons, nursing homes, and similar long-term care facilities as well as for farmworkers. MIOSHA‘s updated COVID-19 Emergency Rules align with federal OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and focus on health care. The changes are effective June 22 and set to expire on December 22, 2021. Read more here.
When COVID-19 cases were spiking across the state last spring, many thought U.P. tourism would struggle—instead, it thrived. Those wary of catching the virus indoors or on planes traveled to the great outdoors in the U.P., resulting in record visitations at campgrounds and hotels, canoe liveries, hiking trails, and pasty shops. By September, nearly half a million people were streaming into the U.P. via the Mackinac Bridge, more than any of the previous six Septembers.
With the tourism surge expected to continue this summer with both new and returning visitors, business owners are making preparations for the number of visitors traveling to experience the great Upper Peninsula. Read more here.
Northern Initiatives, located in Marquette, assisted 36 small businesses in the U.P. to receive the second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. One business—Sombrero Sound Company—went one year without income and went to Northern Initiatives for assistance. Within four days, he was approved and had the funds from the PPP.
“We realized that some of the smallest businesses were being left behind in that process,” said Northern Initiatives President Elissa Sangalli. “These are loans that, if done right, can become a grant. We really wanted to make sure that our sole proprietors and small businesses were able to survive the pandemic.” Read more here.
As the U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet began the process of readying their vessels for the shipping season on March 24, 2021, many sailors did not have an opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in their home state before they needed to report for their essential work. After a plea for help from the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Chippewa County Health Department (CCHD) began the process of executing a COVID-19 vaccination program, “Shots on Ships”, for U.S. Great Lakes Sailors, allowing them to get vaccinated on their vessels while passing through the Soo Locks.
Through the program, nurses from CCHD pack up their coolers and needles, climb 25-foot ladders to board the vessel and administer the vaccine. To date, more than 300 vaccines on 25 different vessels have been administered. On Friday, June 25, LCA will present CCHD with a token of appreciation at the Soo Locks Visitors Center. Read more here.
On May 20, Governor Whitmer announced an updated ‘Vacc to Normal’ plan. As of June 1st, capacity limits will lift for outdoor events. Additionally, indoor capacity limits will increase to 50%. As of July 1st, the state will no longer limit capacity at indoor or outdoor gatherings. There will be an updated epidemic order released on Monday. Read more here.
Additionally, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Governor Whitmer announced updated face mask guidelines following the CDC’s new recommendations. Under the new order, the outdoor mask order is lifted and the indoor mask order is completely lifted for those that are fully vaccinated but will remain in effect until July 1 for those that are unvaccinated. Read more here.
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, a majority of respondents to the Minneapolis Fed‘s quarterly general business survey reported optimism, even if many expected a rough road to full recovery. The survey received 822 responses from businesses, nonprofit groups, and some local government organizations in the Ninth District, which includes the Upper Peninsula, Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota, and northwestern Wisconsin.
Key insights from the respondents include: most revenues are very close, if not at pre-pandemic levels, growth has been slowed by hiring difficulties, supplies are still disrupted, and wages and prices are rising. Read more about the survey results here.
The application data results for the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund shows that in just 10 days, the Small Business Administration received 226,000 applications asking for $65 billion in aid—more than twice the amount provided by Congress. As a result, the Fund was, as feared, quickly over-prescribed with the existing need.
However, Congress set aside $500 million for applicants with 2019 gross receipts less than $50,000. Money remains in this set-aside. As a result, the application portal will remain open. Eligible establishments that meet this revenue standard are encouraged to apply through SBA-recognized point-of-sale vendors or directly via the SBA online application portal. Read more here.
Michigan residents receiving unemployment will have to prove they’re actively searching for work starting May 30. To remain eligible for benefits, claimants will have to report to the Unemployment Insurance Agency at least one work search activity per week, which can include submitting a job application, interviewing with an employer, and attending a job fair, among other activities. Read more here.
This week, a pathway was unveiled by state policy makers to return to normal through the ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan as the state continues to push towards its goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders ages 16 years or older.
The ‘MI Vacc to Normal’ plan will use four vaccination-based milestones to guide future steps required to get back to normal:
Learn more here.
Funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been exhausted and the application portal has stopped accepting applications for loans from most lenders. $6 billion in funding remains available for previously submitted loan applications and approximately $8 billion in set-aside funds remain available to community financial institutions. Read more here.
The U.S. SBA launched a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) assistance—Supplemental Targeted Advances—that will provide eligible businesses with a supplemental payment of $5,000 that does not have to be repaid.
To qualify, an eligible business entity must be located in a low-income community, suffered greater than 50% economic loss, and have 10 or fewer employees. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Read more here.
The State’s Return-to-Office Workgroup has provided Governor Whitner with their recommendations for how employers can begin to plan for a safe, phased reopening of offices.
In addition to encouraging employers to be transparent and communicate frequently with employees, the key recommendations including reducing office density, addressing operational obstacles, quarantine, isolation, and testing guidelines, and providing caregiving and vaccine resources. Learn more here.
The U.S. SBA launched a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) assistance—Supplemental Targeted Advances—that will provide eligible businesses with a supplemental payment of $5,000 that does not have to be repaid.
To qualify, an eligible business entity must be located in a low-income community, suffered greater than 50% economic loss, and have 10 or fewer employees. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Read more here.
In preparation, qualifying applicants should:
For more information, read the press release here.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is collecting feedback on how U.P. businesses have been impacted by the pandemic. Your response will help the Minneapolis Fed better understand conditions that shape monetary policy.
All responses are anonymous. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes and closes on Monday, April 19. Complete the survey here.
The PPP Extension Act of 2021 was signed into law on Tuesday, March 30. The extension pushes the application date to May 31, 2021 and provides an additional 30 days for the SBA to process applications that are still pending. Read more here.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is applicable for restaurant owners with 20 employees or fewer. The application date has not yet been released.
Operators can apply for tax-free grants of up to $5 million per location or up to $10 million for multi-location operations. Funds will be calculated by subtracting 2020 gross receipts from 2019 gross receipts.
Grant funds can be spent on mortgages or rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage inventory, payroll, and operational expenses.
On Tuesday, March 30, the SBA announced that restaurant owners who seek to participate will not need to sign up for a SAM.gov account or be required to have a DUNS number. More info to come.
Established through the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act and amended by the American Rescue Plan, more than $16 billion in economic relief will be allocated to live-performance venues like theaters, music halls, comedy clubs, museums, and zoos through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG).
Applications for the grant will be accepted by the SBA beginning on Thursday, April 8. Prior to applying, businesses must be registered in the federal government’s System for Awards Manager (SAM). Other eligibility requirements can be found here. There is an informational webinar on Tuesday, March 30 at 2:30pm-4:00pm that will cover necessary documentation, insight on what the SVOG application process will look like, and more. Learn more and register here.
The American Rescue Plan Act has established a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund which will be administered and distributed by the U.S. SBA. Eligible businesses include restaurants, food stands, and similar businesses that serve food or drink that were open on February 15, 2020. Funds are available through December 31, 2021 and will be calculated by subtracting 2020 gross receipts from 2019 gross receipts.
Any eligible business can apply for this grant, provided they can demonstrate:
Applicants can complete three steps now in preparation of submitting an application. Find those steps and learn more here.
Learn more here.
As businesses across the state continue to focus on economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19, the entrepreneurial spirit of the western Upper Peninsula has become evident as they found ways to best implement funding and keep the community working.
Read more here.
By a nearly unanimous vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill extending the deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan to Monday, May 31. Under the bill, the SBA has a deadline of June 30 to process applications. The Senate will be reviewing the bill this week.
The Biden-Harris administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration are taking steps with the Paycheck Protection Program to further promote relief for small businesses. The SBA will:
The 14-day exclusivity period will start on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 9 a.m., while the other four changes will be implemented by the first week of March. The SBA is working on the program changes and will communicate details throughout this week. Learn more here.
The Michigan Survival Grant closed on Friday, January 22 with more than 800 applications received for the Upper Peninsula. InvestUP is working with its economic partners across the region to score the applications using a matrix of seven factors. Applicants will be notified of their selection during the week of February 8th.
Governor Whitmer appointed new members to the Protect Michigan Commission, including CEO of UPHP, Missie Holmquist. Missie was appointed and selected to serve as the Chair of the Health Leaders Workgroup.
Additionally, Evan Bonsall, City of Marquette, and Sadie Valliere, Lac Vieux Desert Bank of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, were also appointed. The commission is designed to raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine and educate and protect the health and safety of Michigan residents. Read the full story here.
A new round of grant funding is being made available by the MEDC through the COVID Relief Plan. InvestUP has been chosen to administer the Michigan Small Business Survival Grant, which includes $2.5 million for small businesses in the U.P.
The grant application will be live starting at 9:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, January 19th and will close on Friday, January 22nd at noon ET. Businesses will need a Connect Space account to apply and can sign up prior to the application date on the website. Find more information here.
The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association is administering $45 million in one-time grants of up to $1,650 to employees impacted by the MDHSS Gathering and Face Mask Order that took place on November 18, 2020. Eligible industries include restaurants, hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, bars, food trucks, bowling alleys, theaters, night clubs, golf courses, banquet halls, caterers, casinos, cafeterias and other impacted industries.
The application period is from January 15, 2021 until January 25, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Grants will not be distributed on a first come, first serve basis. Please ensure that your application is complete and correct prior to submitting. Learn more here.
The SBA has reopened the Paycheck Protection Program to community financial institutions, which includes Community Financial Development Institutions, Minority Depository Institutions, Community Development Corporations and Microlenders. Eligible businesses can submit both First Draw PPP and Second Draw PPP applications as of January 13, 2021. Call your financial institution for assistance.
Learn more here.
On Monday, January 11, Michigan moved into the next stage of vaccinations which includes people aged 65 and up and some prioritized frontline essential workers including school and child care staff, state and federal responders and corrections staff.
InvestUP Director of Business Iniatives Amy Berglund is joining Benjamin Wood, Range Bank Community Bank President, and John McNamara, Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association VP of Government Affairs, to outline the new MEDC Survival Grant on Wednesday, January 20 at 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
In addition to the Survival Grant, the group will discuss the second round of PPP, the Employee Tax Retention Credit and new programs for restaurant and lodging businesses.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of a statewide, bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission. This commission will be formed to heighten awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educate the people, and help protect the health and safety of all Michigan residents. It is important to have U.P. presence on the board.
Join the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis at its fourth annual Regional Economic Conditions Conference on January 13 from 8:30 am – 12:15 pm. This year’s conference will focus on the economic impact of COVID-19 across the Ninth District, which includes the Upper Peninsula. There will be special attention paid to the pandemic’s impact on workers.
The Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $10 million grant program to help meet the urgent needs of small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus in Michigan. $500,000 of the grant will be allocated to the Upper Peninsula. The Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative will utilize federal CARES Act funding to award grants of up to $15,000 to at least 670 small businesses across the State.
The application period for small businesses seeking grants will begin on Tuesday, December 15. Learn more here.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a new emergency order that enacts a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates. The order takes effect on Wednesday, November 18th.
Under this order:
Find more information here.
The first webinar, “Starting a Business in a Pandemic” is on Thursday, November 5 at 12PM.
Lake Superior Community Partnership recently received $500,000 in EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance funds. These are available to businesses that have faced sudden and secure economic dislocation caused by COVID-19.
There is money available for start-ups as well as existing businesses to assist with both working capital and fixed asset loans. Learn more here.
Since LSCP kicked off its Love on Local program in June, the organization has loaded nearly $150,000 on gift cards to be spent on local businesses in Marquette County. The program continues as LSCP draws a name to receive a $50 gift card each month.
Follow updates on their Facebook page and download the app to enter the giveaway.
A set of online resources include a sample COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and a reopening checklist, as well as print materials and educational videos. Find the resources and learn more here.
The U.S. SBA released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to small businesses. Read the full press release here.
Gar Atchinson spoke with Don Ryan on The Ryan Report. He discussed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how UP Health System – Marquette has been adjusting their practices according to COVID-19 cases in the Upper Peninsula.
Watch the full interview here.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is offering a grant opportunity to promote the sustainability of land-based industries and support infrastructure that benefits rural communities. Land-based industries include: food and agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas production and tourism.
Proposals must be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 3 PM on November 19, 2020. Learn more here.
Due to the continued economic stress related to COVID-19, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is seeking input to better understand business conditions across the U.P. Please take this 5-minute survey by Friday, October 9th. Take the survey here.
Reminders: All responses are anonymous and you should only take the survey once.
Through the Michigan Small Business Restart Grant Program, $4.5 million was awarded to 730 businesses and non-profits across the U.P. The average grant across the region is just under $6,000. Of the funding awarded, the legislature required at least 30% of that allocation to be awarded to woman-owned, minority-owned, or veteran-owned businesses. 49% of applicants were from those groups. Learn more here.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited Hancock to speak to community leaders about cases in the U.P. In her press conference, she reminded people to continue to mask up and practice social distancing. She also praised MTU for their on-campus testing and mitigation efforts. Learn more here.
Governor Whitmer recently launched the Futures for Frontliners program, offering tuition-free college to Michiganders who provided essential, frontline services during the COVID-19 Stay Home, Stay Safe orders between April and June 2020. Learn more about the program and applicant criteria here.
There will be a town hall event on Thursday, October 15th at 2:30 – 3:30 PM to answer questions about the program.
MDHSS has announced a $25 million grant program for PPE that will allow medical facilities and other providers to keep their staff and patients safe. The grant will assist facilities facing increased costs for PPE as they provide services to their communities. The program is funded through the CARES Act. Learn more here.
MTU resumed classes last week using a blended learning style of face-to-face and remote instruction. Free testing is available to students with results being updated twice a week. Dr. Koubek, MTU President, was recently on The Ryan Report where he addressed MTU Flex and the University’s plan for robust testing, which they have been nationally recognized for.
NMU is offering a combination of remote and in-person instruction and tested students upon arrival. They are also offering ongoing testing and publishing results here. The University is publishing weekly videos outlining the “Safe on Campus” plan and helping students adjust to the new normal.
LSSU is offering approximately 80% of courses using face-to-face instruction. Campus labs are operating at 50% capacity to accommodate social distancing guidelines. LSSU is also offering ongoing testing and publishing the results here.
The attorneys of Miller Canfield shared their expertise during a webinar, “Understanding the Implications of the FFCRA”. They provided insight and answered questions related to an employer’s obligation under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act legislation which addresses paid sick leave and family and medical leave. Watch the webinar here.
Webinar available to Upper Peninsula businesses on new Department of Defense Compliance | August 19th at 10:30 AM
An introduction to the DoD Cybersecurity Maturity Certification Model. Registration is open here.
Webinar to guide Upper Peninsula businesses on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act | August 20 at 9 AM
Registration for the webinar can be completed by visiting this website.
The State of Michigan is ready to welcome travelers to safely experience Pure Michigan.
To keep communities and visitors safe from COVID-19, businesses across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas have taken the Pure Michigan Pledge, committing to maintaining social distancing and disinfecting protocols. Take the pledge today.
As universities are nearing the beginning of instruction, they are continuing to prepare to offer safe solutions to students and communities.
Bart Pickelman, Director of MIOSHA, and Sean Egan, Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety for the State of Michigan, spoke directly to U.P. business owners about COVID-19 updates and workplace safety requirements hosted by InvestUP in partnership with Lake Superior Community Partnership. Watch the full webinar here.
The MEDC Small Business Restart Grant Program is closed as of August 5th. InvestUP has been designated the fiduciary for the funds. Applications are being reviewed now with the hope that recipients will be notified the first week of September.
Grow & Lead is collecting information on the non-profit sector in the Upper Peninsula through a short survey. The information will be used to advocate for resources for non-profits in the Region. Please consider taking the survey here.
Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan University, and Lake Superior State University are continuing their plans to welcome communities back to campus for the fall semester.
Senator Peters is shown in an iconic U.P. brand, proudly wearing a Stormy Kromer mask to keep his community safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 10th, Senator Peters hosted a virtual call with economic development organizations from across the U.P. to answer their questions about actions that Congress and the Federal government have taken and need to yet take to offer assistance with the significant impact of COVID-19 locally.
On June 30th, Governor Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap. As the Upper Peninsula is in Stage 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan, schools can reopen for in-person instruction with minimal required safety protocols. Executive Order 2020-145 requires all school districts to adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan using the Roadmap as a guideline for the safety measures that will be recommended or required.
Eagle Mine recently launched “Rockin’ Local” to encourage its employees to patronize local businesses. The company invested $100,000 into LSCP’s “Love on Local” program, with all 200 employees receiving a $500 gift card to shop locally.
Additionally, the company is offering incentives to support the economy like wellness giveaways from local businesses and encouraging the use of annual employer-issued boot vouchers at local businesses. Read more about its efforts here.
The U.S. House passed an extension of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program fewer than 24 hours after the program shut its doors. The PPP is now accepting applications until August 8, 2020. Learn more here.
Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, and Lake Superior State Universities are continuing to move towards resuming in-person classes in the fall and providing resources for their communities.
The No-Penalty Property Tax Extension was passed by a wide, bi-partisan vote in both the House and the Senate this week.
If signed by the Governor, taxpayers have until August 28, 2020 to file for the extension. Learn more here.
The EIDL program has reopened!
The U.S. Small Business Administration has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance Program to further meet the needs of small businesses and nonprofits. Those who have not applied previously are encouraged to do so. Contrary to early federal guidance, the SBA has affirmed that there is an opportunity to receive both the PPP and EIDL loan and advance. Apply here.
PPP closes at end of June
The Paycheck Protection Program is closing on June 30, 2020. If a small business has used all of the funds for required expenses, forgiveness applications are available here. The Michigan SBDC representatives are available to assist with guidance through the process.
SBA debt relief reminders
Any small business that has an SBA guaranteed loan does not have to make payments for 6 months. This SBA program pays principal and interest automatically on all small business SBA guaranteed loans. Additionally, if a small business receives an SBA guaranteed loan prior to September 27, 2020, the first 6 months of the principal and interest will be paid. This program does not apply to PPP or EIDL loans. Find more information on SBA Debt Relief here.
President Donald Trump made a stop just across the Michigan border, in Marinette, to visit Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM). The organization is ramping up for production after being awarded an $800 million contract to build a new guided missile frigate for the U.S. Navy. FMM was also offered the option to build and deliver up to 10 ships. If exercised, the cumulative value of the contract is estimated to be $5.5 billion. FMM anticipates adding up to 1,000 jobs to the organization, in addition to subcontractors and other impacts that will bring economic well-being to the region.
As further proven by community testing, cases remain low as the region continues to reopen and attract more visitors. On June 13-14, the Michigan National Guard tested 298 citizens in Chippewa County – all were negative. In the same weekend, 988 samples were collected in Marquette – only 2 were positive. The same testing was conducted in Schoolcraft County with the results forthcoming. Find the most recent fact sheet here.
“Fundamentally, we’re built for this kind of ‘all in this together’ scenario. We have hard-working, family- and community- focused people. At a really uncertain time, it feels good to be able to help, in whatever way we can,” said Todd Brassard, VP/COO of Calumet Electronics.
When COVID-19 hit, Calumet Electronics proved that solidarity doesn’t need to be about proximity. As soon as their first rush order came in for the ventilator PCB, the company knew they had to join the fight against COVID-19. In a short amount of time, the team figured out how to fulfill rush orders while maintaining pre-existing schedules for other essential clients, taking an all-hands-on-deck approach. Read more here.
Chris Harkins, Senate Fiscal Agency Director, joined U.P. economic developers to share insights on the State’s financial impacts due to COVID-19. While the state budget is being challenged like never before, there were, never-the-less, still some highlights, including:
View the entire presentation here.
The Small Business Development Center of the U.P. is offering support for small business as they work to recover post-COVID-19. With the addition of business professionals, support is available in Chippewa, Delta, Gogebic, and Mackinac Counties thus far, with more support expected soon in other counties. In addition, assistance on bookkeeping set up, marketing, website development, and more are being developed. Learn more here.
The Paycheck Protection Program was signed into law on June 5th. Previously, there were many constraints of the PPP which limited the ways in which small businesses could make use of the programming. The Flexibility Act modified the central provisions related to PPP loans under the CARES Act, and offers more options for borrowers to receive much more meaningful and forgiving benefits through the program.
Any business interested in pursuing PPP loans must apply by June 30, 2020. Learn more here.
Cleveland-Cliffs announced its accelerated reopening plans for the Tilden Mine, which was idled mid-April with a restart expected in July. Responding to an increase in steel demand, particularily in the automotive sector, the mine will open later this month.
With approximately 700 employees, Cliffs’ news is a welcome and important aspect of a post-COVID recovery for the Upper Peninsula economy. Read more about the reopening.
As the Upper Peninsula has advanced in the MI Safe Start Plan, regional cases have remained low despite holiday weekends, increased visitor traffic, and businesses reopening. Since Memorial Day weekend, the average daily infection rate in the U.P. has decreased – proving that it really is different up here.
The following data was collected as of Tuesday, June 9th.
In early March, Stormy Kromer quickly shifted from producing some of the highest quality outdoor gear to much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) – primarily masks and gowns. As supplies to essential workers were fulfilled and the general public’s needs for masks increased, Stormy Kromer shifted again to fill those needs.
The company committed 10% of the profits from its flannel face coverings to two organizations. Earlier this week, it donated $9,076.65 to both the Gogebic Range Health Foundation and the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center in Flint which supports its commercial sewing. Gina Thorsen, President, shared, “We were frankly blown away by the amount that we were able to donate due to the sales this month, and we feel incredibly proud to be able to help in communities that need it.” Stormy Kromer will continue to donate 10% of profits to those organizations for as long as sales of the masks continue. Read more.
Governor Whitmer announced that the U.P. has advanced to Stage 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan beginning Wednesday, June 10.
The U.P. moved to Stage 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan on May 22nd. Since then, COVID-19 cases have continued to remain low across the region.
As businesses begin to reengage, the MI Symptoms Web Application is a free way for employers to implement a COVID-19 symptoms screening questionnaire for employees. Users can enter information daily to help identify symptoms that might be caused by the virus and to make decisions about when to seek appropriate medical care.
If employer choose to participate, they can create a profile. A code will be generated and shared with employees to use on their profiles. Read more.
Hospitals in the Upper Peninsula are ready to serve their patients safely. OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group reminds its community to prioritize primary health care needs during this time. While some concerns are better discussed in person, hospitals in the U.P. are also offering services via telephone or video.
In addition to resuming non-essential services, local hospitals are ready for more COVID-19 cases if they arise. Aspirus, Baraga County Memorial Hospital, and UP Health all reported having enough N95 masks, surgical masks, surgical gowns, shields, and gloves for 21-plus days – the highest tier in the state’s metrics. Read more here.
The regional reopening is exciting for all U.P. business owners, but it also comes with additional costs and challenges to maintain social distancing requirements. Jen Julien, Owner of The Vault Hotel in Houghton, has partnered with local organizations to assemble and distribute 100 PPE kits to local businesses. The kits will include mandatory supplies like face masks, hand sanitizer, and signage. Julien says, “Many of our small businesses are absolutely drained of cash at this point. The provision of some basic supplies to help them open and comply with the state requirements is a big deal to them.”
The concept became a reality when Superior National Bank stepped up to fund the entire program. Additionally, Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce, Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance stepped up with communication and distribution support. Read the full story here.
The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has provided COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidance as businesses begin to reopen. They have also collaborated with industry leaders and experts to provide best practice guidelines for the following industries to understand executive order requirements:
Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance (DAEDA) launched the #KeepUPWorking campaign to bring awareness to current employment opportunities in the U.P. While the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in impacts, there are still many Dickinson County businesses that are hiring. The goal of the campaign is to create awareness of the viable job market, encourage prospective employees to look at long term opportunities, and support hiring organizations. To learn more, click here.
In addition to the webinar presented last week, Miller Canfield joined WNMU-TV13 and TV6 for a special edition of Media Meet. Thanks to Brad Arbuckle, Leigh Schultz, and Jacob Hogg for sharing their insights on the regional reopening, as well as expectations and opportunities for businesses. Watch the full episode here.
From the onset of COVID-19, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve has conducted business surveys in the Upper Peninsula and surrounding areas. With the findings varying by location, InvestUP appreciated the opportunity to coordinate a webinar with Ron Wirtz, Regional Outreach Director, to learn more about the survey findings and impacts specific to the U.P. The webinar is available here.
Now more than ever, testing for COVID-19 is critical to slow the spread. If you are experiencing symptoms, you can contact your healthcare provider to determine if you should be evaluated for testing. Each testing provider will determine if testing is appropriate based on your symptoms, risk factors, and test availability. You can find the nearest testing center using this interactive map.
While the Coronavirus has impacted facets in every community, the importance of continuing work remains. Earlier this year, the Great Lakes Sports Commission, in collaboration with First National Bank in Iron Mountain, as well as other U.P. banks, provided a loan to the Kiwanis Ski Club in Iron Mountain, supporting renovations to the Pine Mountain Ski Jump. The groundbreaking took place on May 18 with work projected to continue through October. Champion, Inc. will be doing the construction. The goal of the renovations is to conform with International Ski Federation Standards so the club can host a world cup in upcoming years. Learn more about this initiative here.
InvestUP worked to collect and present facts about COVID-19 in the Upper Peninsula. While the U.P. represents 30% of Michigan’s land mass, it only includes 3% of the overall population. Since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the U.P., there has been an average of 1.6 cases daily. This fact sheet was created in response to the recent economic impact survey that identified the need for the U.P. to open safely and strategically. To review the document, click here.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the start of a regional reopening that includes the U.P. Key highlights are:
InvestUP would like to thank its member, Miller Canfield, for hosting a webinar with the help and support from LSCP. The firm shared insights and guidance to U.P. businesses on workplace safeguards and the reopening of specific industries. Listen to the full webinar here.
Thanks to ongoing engagement with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, a webinar will be held to share findings from its economic surveys and other research on current business conditions in the Upper Peninsula and COVID-19 impacts. To register, click here.
Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) has set up the PMBC COVID-19 Procurement Platform. This is designed for Michigan businesses in need of non-medical grade PPE to keep their employees safe and healthy as they resume operations. To learn more about the program, click here.
The NMU Board of Trustees approved a revised schedule for fall semester. President Fritz Erickson proposed the idea of an earlier start, hoping to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19. This move allows students to stay home following the Thanksgiving break, rather than return to the University to finish classes. The semester will begin on Monday, August 17 and end on Tuesday, November 24.
The Upper Peninsula will continue to lead in education, with all 4 universities planning on resuming in-person classes in the fall.
Lake Superior Community Partnership and the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Chamber of Commerce have launched Love on Local. This is a gift card program for Marquette County to promote local shopping at small businesses. As the economy restarts, supporting local businesses is more important than ever. This program will allow small businesses, individuals, and larger companies to connect and collaborate on a great campaign. For more information, please click here.
Michigan Tech continues to find innovative ways to stem the spread of COVID-19. Its most recent move: setting up a mini manufacturing center in the Van Pelt & Opie Library. Library staff David Holden and John Schneiderhan, along with engineer Joshua Pearce and campus community members are using 3D printers to create face shields for local healthcare workers.
The team has printed more than 2,500 face shields that were distributed through Western Upper Peninsula Health Department. They have plans to produce other items in short supply, like testing swabs. Read the full story here.
Northern Michigan University will provide emergency grants of up to $700 to eligible students who have been financially strained by COVID-19. NMU is using its share of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund for this purpose. The application period ends May 25th.
Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced new initiatives designed to support the economic recovery efforts of small businesses and traditional downtowns throughout the state:
For more information on these programs, click here.
Mr. Bike, Ski, & Fitness organized a can collection in Escanaba to raise money for the homeless community during the COVID-19 crisis. In just 4 weeks, owner Matt Marenger has raised more than $10,000. Overwhelmed by donations, Matt put out a call for help on Facebook looking for an organization to take over the program.
This week, Matt announced that Major Alex and the Salvation Army will continue the program, in addition to making the fundraiser permanent. Beginning May 25th, community members can drop off cans at the Salvation Army located at 3001 5th Ave., S., Escanaba.
51st State Brewing Company in Kingsford has created ‘Yooper Strong’, a new beer which will support frontline workers during COVID-19. Owner Victoria Brickley explained, “We would like to give back to the community. So, we decided the easiest way would be to take a portion of sales from our Yooper Strong beer and give it back to the people on the front line.”
The beer takes about 3 weeks to make, and community members are encouraged to call ahead if they would like to make a purchase. The money will be donated to Dickinson County Healthcare System so they can purchase more PPE. Read more here.
The Florence County School District is using 3D printers to create t-pieces for Dickinson County Healthcare System in Iron Mountain. The t-piece will allow DCH to use machines they currently have and convert them into ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
While DCH has 4 state of the art ICU ventilators on hand, the assistance from Florence County School District will give them the ability to expand their supply if needed. Read the full story here.
Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced that 2,700 small businesses across the state received Michigan Small Business Relief grants. Of the $10 million allocated to the Michigan Small Business Relief Grant Program, $500,000 was given to the U.P. and dispersed to 80 small businesses. The average grant award was $6,250. A full list of U.P. grant recipients is now posted and can be seen here.
Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center has partnered with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department to offer drive-through testing in Houghton. The test site is open Monday through Friday from 8a.m. to 4:30p.m. at the Gates Tennis Center at Michigan Tech.
If you would like to be tested, call 844-947-4854 and answer questions about your symptoms. You will be transferred to a nurse who will navigate you through the pre-registration process and schedule an appointment. UGL has plans to open more testing centers in the U.P., starting with Gwinn and Calumet. Read more here.
Last week, 330 business owners and leaders from all 15 U.P. counties participated in an economic impact survey conducted by InvestUP, Upper Peninsula Michigan Works, and local economic developers. With an average business size of 6-9 employees, small businesses across the region reported the following:
The comments illustrated a common call for the U.P. to be recognized as its own region. Most businesses expressed a readiness to reopen. Concerns about the impacts of an extended closure on the region’s seasonal businesses were also expressed. More details will follow.
According to the Community Bankers of Michigan, U.P. banks lent $286 million to over 2100 businesses during the first phase (2 weeks) of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). During normal times, U.P. banks collectively process these levels of application in 15 month periods. This work illustrates that community banks in the U.P. are a critical catalyst in helping support the economy, small businesses, and their communities.
Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan University, and Lake Superior State University among first in Michigan to unveil plans that will keep students and employees safe while enabling continued learning
Universities in the U.P. are making plans to resume in-person classes for the Fall 2020 Semester. Leadership and Boards of Trustees have taken much into consideration and prioritized public health as they unveiled their plans.
InvestUP remains committed to moving the U.P. forward in a safe manner, mindful of science and our circumstance. Recently, Governor Whitmer introduced the MI Safe Start Plan and created the Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC), to explore ways to reopen the state and start the economy. While the MI Safe Start Plan did identify the U.P. as a region of its own, there are no U.P. representatives serving on either of the MERC committees. We are committed to collaborating with U.P. stakeholders to create a plan specific to the Upper Peninsula.
InvestUP and economic development organizations across the U.P. recently engaged with local, state, and federal legislatures to begin the progression of resuming non-emergent and emergent procedures in all 14 U.P. hospitals. This move will ensure the health and welfare of residents is balanced against the impact of COVID-19. Immediately following that engagement, the House and Senate introduced and adopted a joint, concurrent resolution asking the Administration to permit hospitals to expand their scope of service to the extent it can be done safely with the hope it will advance this critical conversation. To view SR 111, please click here.
A public dashboard has been developed by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association that aggregates by health system to provide a synopsis of PPE days on hand, as well as patient census. View the dashboard here.
As people have stayed in place, the need for broadband access in some areas has been magnified, leading local communities to work together to expand service. One recent example highlights how Portage Health Foundation worked with local broadband providers to create 20 Wi-Fi hotspots with drive-in locations throughout Keweenaw, Houghton, Baraga, and Ontonagon Counties.
In an additional effort to expand internet access, the National Association of Counties (NaCo) has partnered with a host of organizations to develop the TestIT mobile app which empowers individual to provide data on how they experience cellular and broadband internet daily. The data collected through the app identifies areas with low or no connectivity to inform federal policy and funding decisions around broadband infrastructure. Find more information here.
InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante joined Representative Sara Cambensy along with Amy Clickner (CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership) and Amy Quinn (CEO, Grow & Lead Community & Youth Development), and host Elizabeth Peterson for a special episode of Media Meet on WNMU-TV PBS.
The group discussed programs, grants, and loans aimed to help efforts to inform the business community and nonprofit organizations during the COVID-19 crisis. Watch the episode here.
An additional $60 billion was allocated to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The SBA is not accepting new applications at this point, but those who have already submitted applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
To check the status of an existing application, call 1-800-659-2955 and ask to speak to a “Tier 2 Specialist.”
L’Anse Manufacturing, a precision machining company, has stepped up to the fight against COVID-19 by manufacturing parts for ventilators. When they started production during the third and fourth quarters of 2019, they had projected production through 2021. In a few short months, the company has exceeded those projections of more than 500 parts, with the latest order totaling 2,100 parts.
L’Anse Manufacturing’s President Mark Massicotte knows the importance of their work and is proud to be doing their part. Read the full story here.
Michigan Department of of Treasury issued additional taxpayer guidance regarding state income tax return filing and payment deadlines, extensions, and payments. Under Executive Order 2020-26, all April 2020 Michigan state income tax filing deadlines have been extended to July 2020.
Westfall Technik, an injection molding firm, is producing reusable face masks at its Extreme Tool & Engineering Plant in Wakefield, MI. When the company saw individuals making masks in their homes, they were confident that they could find a solution to produce a significant amount of masks to donate to healthcare workers.
In 2 weeks, the project went from an idea to molded parts. They are now molding more than 4,000 masks per day. Taking the innovation further, Westfall Technik designed masks so that household items like elastic bands and shoelaces can be used in case PPE is scarce. Read the full story here.
The Michigan Senate “Safe Behavior for Safe Workplaces”, which engaged the InvestUP Board of Directors last week to talk about strategies to transition the economy safely back to work, has launched a website to accept feedback from businesses and workers.
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) has received agreements from the majority of Michigan’s health insurance companies to waive cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for coronavirus testing and treatments. Find a list of insurers in agreement and learn more here.
Michigan Tech University has partnered with local hospitals to ensure that the Upper Peninsula has better access to COVID-19 test results. The lab has the capacity to run 40 samples per hour and will save healthcare providers days of waiting for test results.
Lake Superior State University has joined the fight against COVID-19. The campus community has taken resources from Nursing Labs, Chemistry, and Biology areas and donated hospital beds, IV pumps, N95 masks, and face shields to War Memorial Hospital.
The SBA has confirmed a lapse in funding appropriations for both the EIDL and PPP programs. Congressional conversations are continuing for further federal stimulus funds for PPP as well as other possible relief funding.
Self-employed workers, gig-workers, 1099-independent contractors, and low-wage workers can now apply for federal benefits on the Labor and Economic Opportunity website. Those who previously applied and were denied are encouraged to login to their MiWAM account to complete the next steps.
Just like all small across the nation, Joe’s One Stop, a gas station and general store in Rock, Michigan, is faced with the impacts of COVID-19. Owner Joe Skellenger reached out on Facebook to share his concerns and ask his community for support. In less than 24 hours, he received an overwhelming outpouring of customers which not only kept his doors open, but allowed him to pay it forward. Joe and his wife donated $200 to Herb’s Bar and presented the owners with an idea to offer buy one get one meal deals. With the new promotion, Herb’s Bar increased their take-out service and received similar support with the community
Michigan Technological University has once again proven that it is a worldwide leader in innovation. Over the past few weeks, a team of mechanical engineers built a prototype unit that could potentially save lives. Across the world, healthcare workers and first responders have been desperately pleading for more PPE or a high-volume sanitation solution.
The Mobile Thermal Utility (MTU) Sanitizer has the ability to be an absolute game changer – cleaning upwards of 60,000 units of personal protection equipment (PPE) every day. Read the full story here.
Michigan’s Work Share program allows an employer to keep employees working with reduced hours. The program allows employees to keep working while collecting partial unemployment benefits to make up a portion of the lost wages.
Located in downtown Escanaba, Kobasic Creations is a small business husband and wife duo specializing in woodworking and laser engraving. Like so many small local businesses, COVID-19 brought about a swift and unexpected change.
Kobasic’s co-owner Jake quickly recognized that he could shift to create intubation boxes for local hospitals. He started a GoFundMe to help fund materials so these boxes could be donated to local hospitals. Thanks to the generosity of many U.P. companies and individuals, these boxes have shipped across the U.S. and into Canada to help fill an essential need.
Wanting to do even more, Jake knew he had the production capability to build face shields, but lacked proper materials. The Escanaba Area High School Robomos and area businesses stepped up to the plate and donated materials needed to produce the face shields. Kobasic Creations also partnered with Cal Valves who produces the headbands and together they hope to provide approximately 200 pieces to local medical staff.
When push comes to shove, those in the Upper Peninsula do what they can to help those around them. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, businesses and organizations have stepped up and shifted production to provide devices and supplies to the front line.
In Calumet, Michigan, Calumet Electronics is manufacturing components that will be used in life-saving equipment, like ventilators, for COVID-19 patients. When a company who produces equipment for breathing machines reached out to Calumet, they immediately stepped up, shifted their production priorities, and worked quickly to get the orders out the door. Todd Brassard, VP and COO, said, “We will prioritize and deliver these types of orders ASAP. Our committed employees, technologies, and 50 years of experience, positions Calumet to deliver reliable parts that will work without fail in these ventilators.”
On the western end of the peninsula, an iconic U.P. brand has leveraged their existing infrastructure and talent to serve the front line workers. With all of the necessary equipment and materials, Stormy Kromer is able to utilize their sewing expertise to provide materials that healthcare workers and first responders desperately need right now. The company is currently fulfilling orders for face masks and gowns.
In addition to these examples, there are countless other businesses, organizations, and community groups from every area of the U.P. that are continuing to come together to do their part. Face shields are being created with 3D printers. Businesses are developing isolation materials for local hospitals. Community members are sewing face masks. Whether it’s materials, money, energy, or time, everyone is doing their part to support their communities in a time of need.