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Coffee shops and small biz call for support amid pandemic

"crowd-funding" gives businesses hope to stay afloat
Posted at 7:15 AM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 07:17:00-04

FENNVILLE — Supporting local businesses is pivotal for prospering in this pandemic, Root Cafe is now raising funds with a competitive opportunity to double their returns through a new process of allocating grant money called “Crowd-Granting.”

Nestled in Allegan Co., Root Cafe is three businesses in one; a coffee house, bar, and art venue supporting dozens of artists throughout the area. Coffeehouse and Spirits owner, Dawn Soltysiak says being closed for two-months has forced her to find new ways to navigate mounting expenses while developing a game plan to reopen safely.

The cafe has been approved for Payroll Protection through the Cares Act, however that much needed funding has yet to arrive. In the meantime, Soltysiak was granted the opportunity for additional funding through a partnerships between Detroit-based non-profit Patronicity and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, creating a MI local Biz grant they’re calling “Crowd-granting.”

“We can raise funds through support from the local community and they’ll (MEDC) match up to $5,000 per business, for a possible total of $10,000.”

Root is one of ten businesses receiving this highly competitive grant spanning over 13 counties in West Michigan. Root launched their crowd-granting campaign June 3, and has until June 24th to reach the goal of $5,000. Anyone who donates more than $100 will receive a handcrafted coffee mug, with additional incentives at higher donation tiers.

The MEDC created the MI Local Biz program with the understanding that “small businesses are the pulse of the local marketplace and affect the lives and well-being of entire communities. It is vital that they continue to operate through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.  This crowd-granting model engages the public as each person contributes in the effort to assist their local businesses. In addition, this model instills community pride as residents become a conduit of support for their local economy.”