Michigan Small Business Development Center expands free services

Shaun H. Ruff
Ty Gray-El, owner of TyGrayEl LLC, is a client who has received support from the Michigan Small Business Development Center. Courtesy Ty Gray-El

A statewide small business support organization expanded its no-cost services to aid businesses that are continuing to be economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (Michigan SBDC) said Tuesday that it will expand its support services, including accounting, e-commerce/website development, human resource support and more, for businesses in all 83 counties in Michigan.

“The pandemic hit small businesses exceptionally hard, and demand for SBDC services skyrocketed. We’ve doubled our staff and extended services into key areas that will expedite small business recovery,” said J.D. Collins, state director of the Michigan SBDC. “These services provide immediate value for businesses responding to the pandemic. An online menu for a restaurant, mental health support for struggling staff (members) or child care-focused consulting are just a few of the services that are part of our comeback kit.”

In partnership with the state of Michigan, the Michigan SBDC works toward enhancing Michigan’s economic well-being by providing consulting, training and market research for new ventures, existing small businesses and advanced technology companies.

“Our small businesses are a vital part of our state and we all must do our part to support them throughout the pandemic,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “The (Michigan SBDC’s) services will help small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and help them continue to serve communities across the state. I am grateful to organizations like (Michigan SBDC that) are committed to keeping our economy and small business strong.”

The SBDC has contracted with Michigan-based small businesses to deliver its expanded services, including web development agencies, branding agencies, social media agencies, accountants, employee assistance programs (EAPs) and more. The no-cost services are available through September 2021 and will be complemented by the SBDC’s existing team of business consultants who provide free, one-on-one consulting to small businesses across the state.

“The stressors of COVID-19 have challenged business owners and their employees in extreme ways, including elevated rates of depression and anxiety,” said Bob VandePol, executive director of the Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services EAP. “Through the Michigan SBDC’s small business recovery program, entrepreneurs now have access to Pine Rest’s (EAP, which aims) to support employers by training leaders, counseling employees and their families, and providing resources to reduce life’s stressors. We are honored to support the business objectives and the human objectives of Michigan small businesses.”

Along with EAP services, eligible small businesses may take advantage of the following services offered through the CARES Act funding:

  • Accounting
  • Branding
  • Graphic design
  • Website development
  • E-commerce support
  • Human resources support

“Hats off to the SBDC. They really have assisted me with putting my business plan into place,” said Ty Gray-El, principal of TyGrayEl LLC. “What the SBDC did for me was help me focus on what my business actually is, where my profit margins will be and where my audience is.”

All entrepreneurs and small businesses can access free consulting through the SBDC at any time. To qualify for the SBDC’s expanded small business recovery program, a business must:

  • Be a client of the Michigan SBDC
  • Have gross revenue under $1 million
  • Have a demonstrated need for such services as a way to pivot or survive the crisis

Individuals can register for SBDC services and learn more about the small business recovery program.

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