COVID-19 Update: Support Builds for $250M Detroit Bond Plan, $1.25M in New MEDC Funding Available for Small Farms, 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 July 20

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.

Support Builds for $250M Neighborhood Bond Plan
Support is building for a $250-million Neighborhood bond plan called Proposal N for Neighborhoods, which will address the city of Detroit’s estimated 22,000 abandoned homes by rehabilitating 8,000 and demolishing 14,000.

Detroit-based black- and minority-owned construction contractors, Local 1911 Laborers Union, and councilmembers Scott Benson, Roy McCalister Jr., and Andre Spivey came out in support of the plan at a news conference Monday.

“The Neighborhood bond plan is a good deal for the city of Detroit,” says Brian McKinney, CEO of Gayanga Co. in Detroit. “The bond deal not only provides an achievable goal for dealing with the city’s blight, it reinforces the employment of Detroiters to do it.  We also believe this is a good positive first step toward leveling the playing field for Black and minority- owned firms to get their fair share of contracts.”

Other key elements of the plan include:

  • Prioritizing Detroit-based companies that focus on hiring Detroiters.
  • 30 percent set aside for certified Detroit Small Businesses and Detroit Based Micro Businesses.
  • 51 percent Detroit Resident Worker requirement.
  • 30 percent goes to preserving 8,000 properties.
  • Creating a pipeline of work that Detroit small business contractors can leverage into becoming stronger and larger companies.
  • Opportunity for Detroit residents to work in the neighborhoods they live.
  • City government contracts are the only contracts where black contractors feel they can compete given the fact that they have traditionally been excluded from suburban private and municipal work.

Detroit City Council was scheduled to vote on the vote on the plan at its meeting this morning. If passed, the proposal will be on the Nov. 3 ballot.

$1.25M in New Funding Available from MEDC to Assist Michigan Small Farms
Applications now are open for $1.25 million in Michigan Economic Development Corp. grants to help the state’s small farms mitigate risks of the COVID-19 virus in their operation. Applications are available here.

Modeled after the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant program launched on July 15 using federal CARES Act funding, the MEDC Small Farm Safety Grant program will award $1.25 million in grants to farms with fewer than 10 employees to fund COVID-19 mitigation costs. These include but are not limited to testing costs, personal protection equipment, facility needs, increased sanitation costs, employee training, and upgraded safety procedures for farm-provided housing.

“We saw an opportunity to respond to clear need for support from Michigan’s small farms to build on the tremendous response from farms and food processors across the state applying for Michigan Agricultural Safety Grants,” says Mark A. Burton, CEO of the MEDC. “The MEDC Small Farm Safety Grant will allow us additional security in our food industry and provide much-needed relief to farmers across Michigan.”

Grants will be limited to $1,000 per employee, and cover costs incurred from June 1 through Sept. 15.

To qualify for grant support, applicants must be a farm located in Michigan and meet the following requirements:

  • Have fewer that 10 employees in Michigan, with supporting documentation.
  • Provide proof of good standing with the state of Michigan, as applicable (Certificate of Good Standing).
  • Attest that the business is current on all state, local, and real estate taxes, or is otherwise contesting them in good faith.
  • Have completed registration in the State of Michigan Integrated Governmental Management Applications (SIGMA) Vendor Self-Service website prior to applying for grant funding.

Applications still are being accepted for the $15 million Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant program using federal CARES Act funding.

Brighton’s eSigns Preps for Sign Requests from Schools for COVID-19 Messages
As educators and government officials across the country prepare for the possible return of students this fall,, which has production facilities in Brighton, has created a new series of COVID-19 school sign and banner designs to assist in the communication of safety practices to students and faculty.

The eSigns design team has created graphics that can be adapted for signs and banners in classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, laboratories, dormitories, locker rooms, or anywhere safety practices might reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The messaging and art images target students at all academic levels, from kindergarten through advanced education.

These new message and design configurations can be printed on vinyl banners, corrugated plastic, aluminum, and other substrate surfaces for utility as banner stands, banner frames, yard signs, pole signs, wall and window graphics, as well as a variety of indoor and outdoor signage. A selection of adhesive floor graphics, featuring directional messages also is available.

For more information, visit here.

Local United Way Benefits from Harlem Children’s Zone COVID-19 Program
United Way for Southeastern Michigan in Detroit is one of six recipients of funds from the $26 million Harlem Children’s Zone and TED’s Audacious Project.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Harlem Children’s Zone officials say, it became clear that it was disproportionately affecting black Americans. HCZ conceived and implemented a multi-pronged approach to emergency response and recovery, focusing on five crucial areas to help offset the pandemic’s impact including:

  • Protecting the most vulnerable.
  • Bridging the digital divide.
  • Preventing learning loss.
  • Mitigating the mental health crisis.
  • Providing economic relief and recovery.

The primary effect of this work will be to inject vital resources into communities that have historically faced neglect and disinvestment.

Other cities’ organizations receiving funds include Minneapolis, Minn.; Oakland, Calif.; Newark, N.J.; Chicago, and Atlanta.

5K Fun Run to Benefit Families Facing Cancer Through COVID-19 Pandemic
The Woodhouse Day Spa in Rochester Hills is conducting its first Color of Wellness 5K Fun Run to benefit the New Day Foundation for Families COVID-19 Emergency Fund on Saturday, Aug. 29.

The event will take place both virtually and in person at Bloomer Park in Rochester at 8 a.m. It also will include music, raffle prizes and giveaways, with staggered start times for social distancing.

Proceeds will benefit the COVID-19 Emergency Fund at New Day Foundation for Families, a nonprofit that offers financial grants in the form of short-term bill payment services, along with financial navigation services, and emotional support programs for families as they face the burdens that accompany a cancer diagnosis.

“The impact of COVID-19 is multiplying the challenges already faced by cancer patients in our community,” says Gina Kell Spehn, co-founder of New Day Foundation for Families. “What we’re learning is potentially devastating to this population.”

To register for the event, visit here. Sponsorship opportunities and more information are available by calling 248-564-9577 or via email at

Week-long LifeWalk Scheduled for July 25-Aug. 1
The Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) week-long Gift of Life virtual LifeWalk will take place July 25-Aug. 1 with the theme of “Too Big for One Day.”

Said to be the largest event promoting organ and tissue donation in the state of Michigan, the Gift of Life LifeWalk also features healthy cooking and exercise demonstrations, inspirational stories, and educational workshops.

The event typically is attended by more than 2,000 individuals, including members of the medical profession, major corporations, media personalities, politicians, donor family members, and transplant recipients.

For more information, visit here. To register, visit here.

Downtown Berkley Kicks Off Ladies Night OUTside
The Berkley Downtown Development Authority is kicking off its first Ladies Night OUTside on Thursday, July 23.

Residents and visitors to downtown Berkley are welcome outside of participating shops and restaurants from 5-9 p.m. each night. Promotions, games and giveaways will be available at storefront tables, on sidewalks, and side streets. To ensure everyone’s safety, physical distancing measures will be in place and complimentary downtown Berkley masks will be available.

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