COVID-19 Update: $1.5B in CARES Act Funds Released, Manufacturers Switch to PPE Production, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of May 6

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Federal Government – $1.5B CARES Act Funds Released
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced that the department’s Economic Development Administration is now accepting applications from eligible grantees for CARES Act supplemental funds (EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance) intended to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

“EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance funds will support the long-term recovery of communities across the nation that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” says Ross.

“EDA’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance is designed to provide a wide-range of financial assistance to communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of this pandemic,” says Dana Gartzke, acting assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “We intend to deploy our CARES Act funding as quickly, effectively, and efficiently as possible, and in a manner that meets the needs of our communities.”

On March 27, President Donald J. Trump signed the $2 trillion CARES Act into law. The CARES Act provides EDA with $1.5 billion of which $1.467 billion is available for grant making. The remaining funds will be transferred to cover salaries, expenses and oversight activities.

The secretary’s announcement comes as EDA has published an Addendum to its Fiscal Year 2020 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunity (FY20 PWEAA NOFO) making the funds available.

EDA will make CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants under the authority of its Economic Adjustment Assistance program, which is intended to be flexible and responsive to the economic development needs and priorities of local and regional stakeholders.

EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance investments will support a wide range of non-construction and construction activities, including revolving loan funds, in regions across the country experiencing severe economic dislocations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Examples of projects that EDA may fund through its CARES Act Recovery Assistance include economic recovery planning and preparing technical assistance strategies to address economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preparing or updating resiliency plans to respond to future pandemics, implementing entrepreneurial support programs to diversify economies, and constructing public works and facilities that will support economic recovery, including the deployment of broadband for purposes including supporting telehealth and remote learning for job skills.

Eligible applicants under the EAA program include:

  • District organizations.
  • Indian tribe or a consortium of Indian tribes.
  • State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a state, including a special purpose unit of a state or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions.
  • Institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education.
  • Public or private nonprofit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a state.

For more information, visit here.

Sterling Heights-based automotive and aerospace supplier TDIC is expanding its efforts to design and produce medical equipment and supplies for health care workers, first responders, and the general public to fight COVID-19. Full-scale production begins today.

Matt D’Andreta, owner of TDIC, has founded Gotcha Covered PPE as a sister company to TDIC that will design, produce, and package reusable gowns and disposable face masks in Sterling Heights using American-made materials.

TDIC says it has been successful for many years due to fast turnaround times. Its design team develops custom patterns and solutions for hard-to-solve problems. At the time when the COVID-19 crisis reached critical levels, the company was approached to make PPE in patterns that would be both functional and cost-effective. Within one week, samples were going out to hospitals.

In Related News: Xcentric Mold and Engineering in Clinton Township is producing injection-molded headbands for face shields being manufactured by ZVerse in South Carolina. The companies have a goal of producing 20 million shields by July.

“Quickly ramping production of high-quality plastic parts in large quantities at affordable prices is the power of Xcentric’s rapid injection molding concept,” says Mike Rynerson, CEO of Xcentric. “We applaud the efforts of everyone who is rallying to support our front-line workers. We are grateful that we and our partners in the Detroit area are able to help the COVID-19 fight in some way.”

The one-size-fits-all shields are professionally engineered and compliant with Class 1 devices. They are reusable, easy-to-clean, and designed to protect the face, mouth, and eyes from spray and splatter. Each unit comes in three parts: headset, visor, and application band. Each shield takes 30 seconds to assemble.

Bulk and individual orders can be made here.

State Launches New Health Care Jobs Portal
The Michigan Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor and Economic Opportunity have teamed to launch a new portal on Pure Michigan Talent Connect, the state’s labor exchange system, that makes it easier for health care professionals to apply for jobs that provide care to COVID-19 patients.

The COVID-19 health care jobs portal features more than 7,000 openings for a variety of positions, including registered nurses, licensed professional nurses, certified nurse aides, respiratory therapists at long-term care facilities, hospitals and in other settings. There are full-time, part-time, and temporary positions available.

“Social distancing is working,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive. “We seem to be heading in the right direction, but our fight against COVID-19 isn’t over. Doctors, nurses, and other health care workers are putting their lives on the line to treat our communities. We must ensure COVID-19 units and long-term care facilities not only have enough PPE, but also the trained professionals they need to provide critical care to COVID-19 patients, take care of their teams and continue to save lives.”

As Michigan ramps up its testing capacity, some labs and testing sites also will be in need of trained health care professionals to oversee sample collection and processing of tests.

The health care jobs portal follows the launch of a broader COVID-19 jobs portal announced last month.

Health care professionals who are experiencing layoffs or are otherwise looking for work, can visit the portal to find job listings with links to apply online here.

Pontiac Sees Medical Marijuana as Economic Boost
Following months of moratoriums, amendments, and ordinance changes, the

city of Pontiac is preparing to fast-track medical marijuana in the city with new resources, collaborations, and an accelerated timeline. The announcement comes on the heels of this week’s city council meeting where budget amendments and resolutions related to the medical marijuana application process introduced by Interim City Clerk Garland Doyle were approved.

Four additional consultants will begin working with the city clerk’s office in the areas of finance, legal, and planning to review the 108 medical marijuana applications that have been received.

Subsequent to their review over the next 60-90 days, the clerk’s office will announce 20 new medical marijuana provisioning centers, growers, processors, safety compliance, and secure transporter businesses that will be operating in the city. Funding for the consultants will be underwritten by a portion of the $525,000 in application fees generated to date, encompassing approximately 85 percent of those fees.

As Pontiac reemerges from the CCVID-19 pandemic, the pending opening of medical marijuana businesses is poised to serve as a vital catalyst for economic development. Among the projected figures for potential economic impact:

  • $261 million in development city wide.
  • $8.4 million in annual tax revenue.
  • More than 200 new jobs.

Currently, 29 largely vacant properties are awaiting cannabis licensing.

MEDC Grants $10M to 2,700 Small Businesses
More than 2,700 small businesses around Michigan have been awarded a total of $10 million in grants by local economic development organizations through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The program was launched to provide relief for small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Michigan Small Business Relief Program grants were intended to provide critical capital to support the health and sustainability of the state’s small businesses, communities, and workforce,” says Mark A. Burton, CEO of the MEDC. “By collaborating with our local economic development partners, we were able to deliver vital resources to small businesses all across Michigan.”

The grants under the Michigan Small Business Relief Program are intended to support businesses facing drastic reductions in cash flow and the continued support of their workforce and may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

The grants, authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund on March 19, were administered by 15 local and nonprofit economic development organizations around Michigan. The EDOs were selected through a competitive process based on capacity to administer the program and ensure coverage to small businesses in all 83 counties in Michigan.

Selected EDOs were responsible for reviewing applications of small businesses in their region and ultimately determining grant awards through the program. Each EDO established a review committee that could include representatives from local workforce agencies, local SBDC representatives, business and nonprofit leaders, among others. The full list of EDOs administering Michigan Small Business Relief grants, the counties they served, and the number of businesses supported is below.

In addition to the $10 million in grant funds, the Michigan Strategic Fund also approved $10 million in loans through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program that are being referred to the MEDC from the local EDO partners. Those loan applications currently are being reviewed by a loan review committee. All loans made through the Michigan Small Business Relief Program will be approved through Michigan Strategic Fund delegated authority and announced as they are finalized.

For more information on the Michigan Small Business Relief Program and links to lists of award recipients throughout the state, visit here.

Support for Small Businesses
Groups across the state have launched crowdfunding campaigns to raise funds to help small business adversely effected by the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities.

Brighton’s Small Town and Big Hearts and Give Back to Pontiac are among the Michigan groups who have partnered with the civic crowdfunding platform Patronicity to allow area residents and organizations to directly support the small business community through these difficult times.

“It’s remarkable the way organizations across Michigan are coming together to meet the needs of their businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible, right now crowdfunding is a great fit for that,” says Mahala Clayton, program director for Michigan at Patronicity. “Considering that everyone is putting aside the natural discomfort of asking for money and realizing the greater impact this immediate action can have, that is what is keeping our hustle moving even internally.”

The Patronicity Small Business Support program runs through the end of May and offers one-on-one project coaching and is waiving most platform fees normally charged to project teams.  Funds can be distributed on a rolling basis during the duration of campaigns as groups identify qualified business. Learn more here.

Bassett Education India will be hosting a virtual panel discussion titled “Decoding Disruption” that will be broadcast simultaneously in India and the U.S. on Monday, May 11 at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

The discussion is intended to help business owners and corporate leaders as they struggle with multi-dimensional challenges in the current COVID19 crisis.

Among the panelists will be:

  • Eric S. Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom.
  • Warren Harris, CEO and managing director of Tata Technologies.
  • Anand Deshpande, founder, chairman, and managing director of Persistent Systems.
  • Leland Bassett, chairman and CEO of the Bassett and Bassett communication consulting firm.

The panelists are expected to provide new ideas, opinions, and advice on human aspects such as coping with anxiety and building hope. They also will shed light on how senior executives and corporate managers can manage teams and walk the tight rope with economic challenges on one hand and human lives and emotions on the other.

In addition to members of the corporate world, professors, students, teachers, members of special associations, bureaucrats, and journalists are invited to participate.

Pre-registration for the broadcast is mandatory and can be done by visiting here.

Varvatos Company Files for Bankruptcy
John Varvatos Enterprises Inc., a popular men’s fashion brand founded by metro Detroit native John Varvatos, has filed for federal bankruptcy protection due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New York-based company, whose products are favored by rock stars and celebrities, filed for Chapter 11 as part of a plan to sell itself for an undisclosed amount to an affiliate of Lion Capital LLC, one of its creditors. Varvatos listed more than $140 million of debt in court filings in Delaware May 6.

Varvatos, who started the company in 2000, will remain in charge of the reorganized company, according to court documents.

The 30-store chain’s headquarters is in Manhattan at the former home of legendary music club CBGB. All the stores, including the one in downtown Detroit at Woodward Avenue and John R, currently are closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Marathon Helps Southwest Detroit Neighbors
Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Detroit May 6 distributed much-needed supplies to its neighbors in the community surrounding the refinery to help them weather the COVID-19 crisis.

The supplies will help hundreds of families and include diapers and baby wipes, laundry detergent, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap and shampoo, and more. MPC also will be distributing hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray.

The giveaway was conducted in conjunction with a City of Detroit Recreation Department’s food assistance program.

“This donation will help us to meet additional needs and support families with necessary supplies,” says Erin Casey, assistant director of Detroit Parks and Recreation. “By addressing this need it deepens our impact in the communities we serve.”

Additionally, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MPC donated personal protective equipment to metro Detroit health care providers. This donation included nearly 40,000 masks to local and regional Michigan hospitals, including Beaumont Health System, Wayne Campus; Henry Ford Hospital; Beaumont Children’s Hospital; and the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

The Detroit refinery also made a donation to the to Detroit Public Safety Foundation to assist the needs of the Detroit Police and Detroit Fire departments. An additional donation was also made to the Detroit area Salvation Army so they can continue their valuable work in the face of COVID-19.

“Since 1959, Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in southwest Detroit has been proud to be part of this community, and I look forward to deepening and expanding our community relationships,” says Dave Leaver, general manager of the Detroit refinery. “At Marathon, we believe that being a good corporate citizen means being an even better neighbor and lending our community a helping hand during these unprecedented times is part of that mission. We will get through this crisis together.”

Goolge Commits $100,000 to GiveDirectly
Employees from Google’s Detroit and Ann Arbor offices and, Google’s philanthropic arm, are supporting GiveDirectly’s campaign to raise relief funds for families throughout southeast Michigan impacted by COVID-19.

To date, Google’s Michigan offices have committed to donate more than $100,000, which will provide $1,000 in direct cash payments to at least 100 area families hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

“This has been an especially difficult time for Detroiters as we were among those struck hardest in the country by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “But we’re getting through it by working and coming together. Efforts like this initiative led by Google are essential to helping overcome the impacts of this virus. It’s another example of the ways that companies and individuals are taking extra steps to provide necessary support for our community and Detroiters every day.”

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor says, “Our families and communities are facing tremendous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why a giving spirit and relief efforts are more important than ever. The initiative from GiveDirectly and our local Google Michigan offices can help provide critical support to those most in need. We appreciate and thank businesses for coming together and stepping up like this.”

As one of GiveDirectly’s earliest funders, this builds on a long relationship between GiveDirectly and Since 2012, has provided more than $10 million to GiveDirectly to support unconditional cash transfers and the research that validates this approach.

“From our first meeting in 2012, has engaged in the evidence on cash and challenged us to think bigger,” says Michael Faye, co-founder and CEO of GiveDirectly. “They’ve been a close partner since, and we’re deeply appreciative of their ongoing generosity and willingness to lead in the face of crisis.”

Google employees can double the impact of their individual contributions to this relief effort by using their employee donation match benefits, thanks to The company’s philanthropic arm also stepped in to provide the seed money to help activate the GiveDirectly local fund.

“COVID-19 has upended lives and we know that Detroit and Michigan communities and families have been among those hardest hit by this devastating virus,” says Danielle Russell, lead of the Google Detroit site. “This GiveDirectly initiative is one way our Google Michigan offices and others can help make a difference, provide some critical financial relief to vulnerable, impacted families locally and recognize the grit, determination, spirit and innovation that embody those who call the Motor City and Great Lakes State home.”

In addition to donations made by employees and as part of the GiveDirectly campaign, Google has donated $25,000 to the United Way of Washtenaw County to help the county continue to provide critical services and support to those impacted by COVID-19.

To learn more about this initiative, visit here.

Salvation Army Marshals Corporate Partners
The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit and its corporate partners have ramped up efforts to serve the underserved and vulnerable in metro Detroit through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corporate donations supporting The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 relief efforts include:

  • Bank of America Charitable Foundation contributed significant support for several initiatives including food box distributions, and the staffing and hazard pay of Salvation Army employees.
  • Bob Evans donated a semi-truck filled with food/proteins to help feed metro Detroiters in need.
  • Clean Planet Foods provided long-term use of its warehouse to pack food boxes, along with donating a portion of proceeds that will provide prepackaged meals to those affected by COVID-19.
  • Consumers Energy provided financial support to help support local families throughout the pandemic.
  • Denali Moosetracks provided support to help feed local families throughout the pandemic.
  • DTE Energy Foundation contributed resources to help support local families throughout the pandemic.
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles contributed toward feeding efforts of individuals in need with a focus on those living on the east side of Detroit and Warren.
  • Ford Motor Co. and the Ford Motor Co. Fund supplied delivery trucks and drivers to deliver supplies and food to local corps community centers.
  • Louis Ferris, Founder of The Good Shepherds, donated 5,500 pounds of Piedmontese beef to The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light facility in Detroit, which was then distributed to the community from the Bed and Bread trucks.
  • Horizon Bank gave a monetary donation to support the nonprofit’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • Project Isaiah 41 donated 15,000 packaged meals per week for four weeks, helping feed local residents in Detroit.
  • Marathon Petroleum made a contribution to support the nonprofit’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • Margaret Dunning Foundation gave a monetary donation to support the nonprofit’s COVID-19 relief efforts in Plymouth.
  • Matthew 25 Ministries and Procter and Gamble donated paper, sanitary supplies, and diapers to protect the nonprofit’s staff, volunteers, and recipients.
  • Sysco made a donation of 27,000 pounds of food to help feed local families throughout the pandemic.
  • The city of Detroit partnered with The Salvation Army to help support Detroit’s most vulnerable neighbors.
  • The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan provided support to fund the nonprofit’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
  • Toyota Motor North America provided volunteers to pack food boxes that were later distributed to families in the community.
  • United Way made a significant contribution to support several COVID-19 food initiatives.

“It truly takes an army to battle what the people of Detroit are experiencing right now,” Lt. Col. John Turner, divisional commander for The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division. “The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit is thankful for its community partners getting behind the shield, providing in-kind and monetary donations to support the community through these uncertain times.”

Individuals can support The Salvation Army’s efforts by texting COVID to 24365, visiting here, calling 877-SAL-MICH, or sending a check, payable to The Salvation Army, to 16130 Northland Dr., Southfield, MI 48075.

Food Support for Students
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Auburn Hills has committed to providing more than 1 million meals to ensure children who depend on school meals continue to have access to nutritious food. FCA is moving closer to achieving this goal, partnering with No Kid Hungry to support its grantees – schools, food banks, and community groups across the country – in serving 640,000 meals during school closures due to the pandemic. FCA’s corporate partnership is incremental to the expanded partnership with No Kid Hungry that the Chrysler brand announced in mid-March.

“There has never been a more important moment to help children and their families,” says Mark Stewart, COO of FCA – North America. “FCA and the Chrysler brand are pleased to support No Kid Hungry in its mission to end childhood hunger.”

Millions of vulnerable children are losing the healthy meals they depend on as the coronavirus has closed schools nationwide. No Kid Hungry has a plan to help feed them. As part of its coronavirus relief and recovery efforts, No Kid Hungry is providing emergency grants to schools, food banks, and community groups all across the country, and diverting staff and resources to the hardest hit communities.

In addition to its national partnership with No Kid Hungry, FCA is working with more than 40 local nonprofit organizations that are providing meals to children in the communities around its principal manufacturing plants in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Similar programs are underway in Canada and Mexico.

In Related News: Madison Heights-based Hungry Howie’s will be delivering 1,000 pizzas today and tomorrow to Detroit Rescue Mission homeless shelters, the Karmanos Cancer Institute, and Children’s Hospital of Michigan, courtesy of Wild Bill’s tobacco shops.

“During these trying times it is vital that each of us does what we can to look beyond ourselves and provide assistance and support,” says Mike Samona, CEO of Wild Bill’s.

Today, pizza was served midday to 500 people at two Detroit Rescue Mission locations. Tomorrow at lunch time, 100 people will be served at the Karmanos Cancer Institute and 400 will be served at Children’s Hospitall of Michigan.

Despite its 100 stores remaining closed by the pandemic, in recent weeks, Wild Bill’s also has donated the more than 20,000 surgical masks, 10,000 pairs of protective gloves, and 6,000 meals to local health care professionals, first responders, law enforcement agencies, and fire departments

Masco Corp. Commits $1M to COVID-19 Relief
As part of its ongoing effort to create strong communities, Livonia-based Masco Corp. is redirecting its community outreach budget for 2020 to provide $1 million in support to nonprofit organizations meeting the urgent needs of those impacted by COVID-19.

This funding, provided to nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada near its business units and headquarters, will support both short- and long-term relief efforts including food, shelter, health and human services, and financial assistance programs.

Some of the funding will be donated to United Way branches near its employee populations to take advantage of United Way’s expertise in coordinating disaster response for each region’s unique needs. Remaining funds will be allocated to individual shelters and food banks with strong experience serving its most vulnerable neighbors and local medical centers instrumental in the treatment and fight against COVID-19.

In addition to cash grants, several of Masco’s business units are in the early stages of exploring their ability to assist in the manufacture of parts for medical devices and already have assisted local charities and first-line health care professionals by purchasing and donating personal protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitizers.

“Masco will continue to search for ways we can make an impact during this challenging time,” says Keith Allman, president and CEO of Masco. “We are proud to be able to support our communities with critical funding, and we are immensely grateful to the nonprofits that are working tirelessly to meet the increasing needs of those affected by this crisis.”

Treetops Resort Offers Free Golf to Front-line Workers
Treetops Resort in Gaylord is inviting all front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19 to play an unlimited number of golf holes now through May 15 at its Tradition course. Any holes played past 18 are free of charge.

“Whether you are on the front line in the hospital, grocery store, gas station, or your job has been flipped upside down like our educators, we want to say thank you with the game of golf,” says  Kevin McKinley, PGA professional and Assistant general manager at Treetops. “Simply mention you are on the front line at the time you book your tee time regardless of what your job might be and we’d love for you to enjoy a few extra holes of golf on us.”

Treetops Resort management has outlined the following plan to safely play golf through May 15:

  • Golf may be played but, golf carts are not permitted at this time.
  • Tee times are required and must be made in advance.
  • Payment will be taken at the time of booking.
  • Modifications to date of play and start time or cancellation with full refunds will be available prior to the start of the scheduled time if you choose not to play for any reason.

Walking rate for the Tradition course is $25 for 18 holes or $15 for 9 holes until further notice. Tee times can be made by calling 866-529-5148.

Hand-washing Stations for Detroit’s Homeless
Street Medicine Detroit, a Wayne State University School of Medicine student-led organization committed to serving the unreached homeless population of Detroit, has built a series of field hand-washing stations and placed them near soup kitchens and in homeless encampments throughout the city. The stations allow those who live on the streets to clean and sanitize their hands if they don’t have access to a sink or bathroom during the crisis.

“While many of us may take this simple act of hygiene for granted, a number of encampment residents have expressed gratitude and excitement to have the ability to wash their hands in their camps while businesses and public facilities are closed during the pandemic,” says Amanda Manly, president of Street Medicine Detroit and a member or WSU’s class of 2021. “SMD has been concerned for our friends on the street as their situations make them especially vulnerable to infections. Our goal is to maximize their health and safety. It is our hope that these stations will aid in doing so.”

The CDC lists hand washing as one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to setting up six field hand-washing stations in Detroit, SMD and partner organization, Detroit Street Care, also created an online field hand-washing station How-To Guide, which gives directions on how to procure items, supplies needed per station, and instructions on how to fill and refill the stations.

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