Current News & Updates

Love on Local program nearing $150,000 in local spending

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.

MIOSHA clarifies employee requirements to control COVID-19 spread

MIOSHA, within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, has clarified the safety requirements that employers must follow regarding COVID-19.

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.

New PPP application available for loans of $50,000 or less

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.

UPHS CEO, Gar Atchinson on Ryan Report to discuss Marquette response to COVID-19

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.

Funding available to support rural communities and land-based industries

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 mda-grants@michigan.gov no later than 3 PM on November 19, 2020. Learn more here.

Minneapolis Fed seeking input on business conditions in U.P.

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. 

$4.5 million awarded to 730 U.P. businesses and non-profits

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 Whitmer praises efforts of MTU

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.

Tuition-free college for Michigan’s frontline employees

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. Join the virtual event here.

MDHSS announces $25 million grant for PPE for frontline workers

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.

U.P. universities prioritize campus community health as students return

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.

Learn about employer’s obligations on paid sick leave and family and medical leave due to COVID-19

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.

Upcoming webinars

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. Advanced questions for the webinar (which is recommended) can be submitted until August 19 at 5 PM ET to invest@investupmi@.com.

Take the Pure Michigan Pledge!

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.

NMU, MTU, and LSSU creating innovative solutions to keep students and faculty safe

As universities are nearing the beginning of instruction, they are continuing to prepare to offer safe solutions to students and communities.

Workplace safety updates from MIOSHA director and director of COVID-19 Workplace safety

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.

Restart grant recipients announced next month

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 collecting non-profit sector information

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.

U.P. universities making preparations to welcome communities back to campus

Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan University, and Lake Superior State University are continuing their plans to welcome communities back to campus for the fall semester.

  • MTU will enter the final step of MTU Flex on July 27th. Step Three will bring the university to near-normal operations as students return to campus. While the goals in Steps One and Two will remain in place, campus services will begin operating at 75-80% capacity, residential halls will open, and dining services will open with enhanced social distancing and hygiene measures.
  • NMU has announced its Safe on Campus plan for students and faculty which addresses the precautions needed in academic, living, dining, work, and recreational spaces on campus.
  • LSSU is providing optional COVID-19 testing for all students as they arrive on campus. The University partnered with War Memorial Hospital to provide testing at no cost to the students. 

Deadlines approaching for U.P. business funding opportunities

  • Small Business Restart Grant: $4,545,455 will be administered to small businesses across all 15 U.P. counties. Each applicant can receive up to $20,000 in funds. Applications close on Wednesday, August 5th.
  • Rural Cooperative Development Grant: $5.8 million is available through USDA to help start, expand, or improve rural cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses in rural areas. Applications close at midnight ET on August 3, 2020.
  • MEDC Small Farm Safety Grant: $1.25 million will be awarded to farms with less than 10 employees to fund COVID-19 mitigation costs. Grants will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis until all funds have been awarded.
  • Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant: $15 million in grants is available to provide critical support to Michigan’s farms and food processors. Applications close on August 5th.

Senator Peters hosts virtual meeting with U.P. economic developers

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.

Governor Whitmer announces K-12 return plan

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 invests in local economy and promotes local spending

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.

PPP is extended until August 8

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.

U.P. universities are moving forward with reopening plans to keep students and communities safe

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.

  • NMU is offering 11 self-paced, online COVID-19 educational modules free of cost.
  • MTU is in Step Two of MTU Flex. Step Two allows for more individuals to return to campus, in addition to reopening some public buildings and retail services.
  • LSSU has announced its “Get Here & Stay Here” plan for the 2020-21 academic year. The plan encourages students to stay on campus for the entire fall and spring semesters.

 

LSSU and MTU have resumed in-person campus tours for small groups. NMU has suspended visits through July, but is offering virtual tours.

Proposal to extend summer property tax deadlines without penalty passes the legislature

The No-Penalty Property Tax Extension was passed by a wide, bi-partisan vote in both the House and the Senate this week. 

  • HB 5761 gives taxpayers until March 1, 2021 to pay their summer 2020 assessment without penalty or additional fees.
  • HB 5810 provides borrowing tools for delinquent taxes to schools and local government entities.

 

If signed by the Governor, taxpayers have until August 28, 2020 to file for the extension. Learn more here.

Updates on financial relief programs

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 Trump visits Fincantieri Marinette Marine

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.

COVID-19 cases remain low in Upper Peninsula amidst re-opening and increased testing

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.

Statewide magazine, Michigan Country Lines, features Calumet Electronics for successful production of ventilator parts

“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.

updates on state’s financial impacts from chris harkins

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: 

  • State income tax revenues were more promising than expected.
  • The state inflation is forecasted to be negligible for the next two years.
  • Michigan received $3.8 billion in federal stimulus money which will help policy makers confront fiscal challenges.
  • The State’s fiscal agents are taking the unprecedented step of holding a third State Revenue Conference in August to better understand what is taking place with the State budget.

 

View the entire presentation here.

Free business support from SBDC

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.

New PPP loan forgiveness rules offer businesses more flexibility

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 boosts economy with an accelerated reopening, restoring jobs for 700 employees

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.

It’s different u.p. here: COVID-19 cases remain low across region

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.

  • Although the Mackinac Bridge saw a 34% decrease in crossings compared to 2019, there were still 54,000 vehicles that crossed the bridge over Memorial Day Weekend.
  • Since Memorial Day Weekend, the average daily infection rate in the U.P. has decreased from 1.48 to 0.93. The statewide infection rate has also decreased from 771.95 to 159.07 in the same timeframe.
  • There have only been 13 new cases in the U.P. since Memorial Day Weekend.
  • There have been 0 deaths in the U.P. since May 26th, compared to 256 statewide.

Stormy Kromer donates over $18,000 to two charitable organizations

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.

Opening U.P. – we have moved to stage 5!

Governor Whitmer announced that the U.P. has advanced to Stage 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan beginning Wednesday, June 10.

  • Personal care services such as hair and nail salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, tanning salons, and gyms can reopen, subject to reopening guidelines.
  • Move theaters, convention centers, and performance spaces can open with 25% maximum occupancy, or 250 – whichever is smaller.
  • Larger gatherings are allowed with social distancing in place:
    • Indoor gatherings can include up to 50 people.
    • Outdoor gatherings can have up to 250 people.
  • Outdoor performances, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies can include up to 500 people.
  • Previously and newly opened businesses must develop a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan. The details are outlined here.

U.P. cases remain low amidst regional reopening

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.

State launches free symptom tracking program for employers

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.

U.P. hospitals are ready for what’s next; PPE supply in top tier of state’s metrics

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.

Free PPE kits for over 100 Keweenaw businesses

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

COVID-19 safety guidance and industry specific best practices

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:

#KeepUPWorking initiative launched in Dickinson County

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.

Media Meet with Miller Canfield

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.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve webinar shares U.P. economic findings

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.

Find your nearest COVID-19 testing center

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.

Groundbreaking looks to future opportunities

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 unveils COVID-19 business impact survey results. It’s truly different U.P. 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.

The U.P. is safely reopening

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the start of a regional reopening that includes the U.P. Key highlights are:

Michigan-based national law firm offers webinar to U.P. to reopen safely within Executive Order

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.

Federal Reserve presents economic performance data specific to U.P. region

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.

PPE assistance for Michigan businesses

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.

NMU announces earlier start to fall semester

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.

Love on Local: Support your local businesses

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.

MTU manufacturing face shields and other PPE

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.

NMU utilizes CARES Act funding for student emergency grants

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.

MEDC announces new community development initiatives

Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced new initiatives designed to support the economic recovery efforts of small businesses and traditional downtowns throughout the state:

  • MI Local Biz: Small businesses can raise funds through a donation-based crowdfunding model. MEDC will match up to $5,000.
  • Match on Main: Provides funds to community organizations to support small businesses in traditional downtowns. Applications close at 5p.m. on May 29, 2020.
  • Reopen Main Street: Strategic resources to reopen downtown businesses.

 

For more information on these programs, click here.

Local bike shop raises more than $10,000 through can collections

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.

‘Yooper Strong’ beer sales benefitting front line workers

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.

Florence Schools creating materials for Dickinson County Healthcare System

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.

MEDC SBR grant recipients now available

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.

Drive through COVID-19 testing available in Houghton

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.

U.P. economic impact survey results

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:

  • 46% anticipated not being able to survive more than 6 months if some economic reopening is not permitted in the near future.
  • 68% have seen changes in payroll and workforce.
  • 50% of businesses furloughed or temporarily laid off an average of 5 employees.

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.

U.P. banks process $286 million into the region during first 2 weeks of PPP lending

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.

U.P. universities taking a state-wide lead on plans for fall in-person classes

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.

  • NMU’s Board of Trustees approved a proposal from President Fritz Erickson under the assurance that the University will abide by state and federal recommendations and lawful orders as they return to face-to-face instruction.
  • Michigan Tech has announced “MTU Flex“, a hybrid learning model that will be implemented in the fall. While they are planning to welcome the community back to campus, MTU Flex allows the University to transition from in-person to online instruction with ease, when necessary.
  • Lake Superior State University announced that they plan to resume face-to-face instruction, in addition to adjusting the academic calendar. Instruction will commence on Monday, August 10th and will conclude prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Upper Peninsula Regional Reopening

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. 

All 14 U.P. hospitals urge regional strategic plan to start to transition

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.

Michigan Child Care Relief Fund

Michigan Department of Education has announced the Child Care Relief Fund, helping child care providers cover costs and stay open during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Grants will start at $1,500 for home-based providers and $3,000 for childcare centers, with additional funds being awarded based on size, whether they are open and serving essential workers, and their quality rating. Find more information and application details here.

Internet resources to support U.P. communities during COVID-19

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

Media Meet: COVID-19 impacts and resources

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.

EIDL Application Status update

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 building ventilator parts for COVID-19 patients

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 state tax deadlines extended to July

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.

New toolkits from Lake Superior Community Partnership

Lake Superior Community Partnership has shared a few ideas to help businesses survive the Coronavirus economy.
  1. Resiliency Toolkit: offers cashflow, marketing, and sales ideas for both now and as the economy reopens
  2. Hibernation Toolkit: provides a few habits that business owners can implement to secure cash

Wakefield engineering plant making reusable masks

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.

U.P small business owners invited to share insight on restarting economy

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.

To ensure that the voice of Upper Peninsula small business owners are heard, please click here to share your opinion on when businesses should safely look to operate again and provide a safe work environment to employees and those they serve.
 
Your input will be critical in helping the group better understand the needs of Upper Peninsula job providers and workers as the state works to reopen for business.

Michigan’s health insurers agree to provide coronavirus treatment at no cost to patients

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 opens covid-19 testing lab

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.

We are grateful for the many hands that quickly came together to make this a reality, including Representative Markkanen and Senator Ed McBrook, OSF St. Francis Hospital Pathologist, Dr. Cary Gottlieb, and DHHS, particularly its Chief Deputy Director, Elizabeth Hertel. She gave up a Saturday afternoon to work with us to get MTU immediately before state certification officials. Because of their collective and tireless effort, this lab began testing this week. Read more about the collaboration on Michigan Tech’s website.

lssu joins the fight against covid-19

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.

In addition, LSSU has utilized its 3D printers to provide support to the Great Lakes Composites Institute of Bay Mills Community College to assist with producing 40 face shields per day which will be given to local healthcare and hospice facilities.
 
The transition to remote learning and virtual programming allowed the university’s Student Government and University Activities Board to come together and donate $7,000 of their budgets towards the purchase of protective equipment for those on the front lines. Read more about LSSU’s initiatives here.

 

save small business fund $5,000 grant application available on april 20 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has announced a new program: the Save Small Business Fund. The fund is open to businesses that employ between 3 and 20 people, are located in an economically vulnerable community, and have been harmed financially by COVID-19.
 
The $5,000 grants are funded through corporate and philanthropic donations and are to be applied toward business expenses. The application will be available on April 20 at 12:00pm PT. Click here to determine eligibility.
 

Free small business support with invent@nmu

 

In response to the economic impacts on the Marquette community, Invent@NMU has collaborated with Innovate Marquette SmartZoneLucidCoast, and Campfire CoWorks to offer free services to small local businesses, highlighted below.
 
This initiative is part of Northern Michigan University‘s #WildcatsMeanBusiness campaign. To learn more and request services, click here.

 

sba confirms exhaustion of funding appropriations for eidl and ppp programs as of april 17th

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.

unemployment benefits now open to 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers

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.

Joe’s One Stop: local businesses leaning on each other through COVID-19 impacts

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 

The increased business allowed Joe to expand inventory and further support his community as signs will soon line M-35 with the name and photo of every high school senior to recognize Mid Peninsula’s Class of 2020. Read the encouraging full story here.

MTU quickly engineered and built a mobile prototype expected to clean 25-30 pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE) in 2 hours

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

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.

Kobasic Creations: Providing hospitals with intubation boxes

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.

 

U.P. manufacturers step up and shift to service and support health care needs

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.