Frankenmuth Community Foundation Steps Up
to Match DDA "Local Match on Main" Program. 
by Sheila Stamiris, Executive Director
Downtown Development Authority  
August 1, 2020

On June 30, I spent four of the some of the best hours I’ve had in recent months since the Covid-crisis hit the region in full force. As the executive with the Frankenmuth Downtown Development Authority (DDA), it was my pleasure to deliver checks to Frankenmuth businesses who successfully applied for funds through a “local” Match on Main Street grant program. Let me share this story.

In mid-May, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced an economic stimulus grant in an amount not to exceed $50,000 for groups like the Frankenmuth DDA to help “brick and mortar” businesses to weather the Covid-storm. “Brick and Mortar” businesses describe those that operate their business face to face in a real building with a shingle on the sidewalk … creating the sense of place that defines a community.

Frankenmuth took the challenge, adding additional funds to the mix as “local match.” With a committee of five non-business affiliated volunteers, the DDA waded through the MEDC process, advertised for participants, reviewed and ranked qualified applicants and submitted an awesome grant application on May 29.

Unfortunately, so did more than 200 other outstanding communities, with 22 of those receiving grant funding. Disappointed that Frankenmuth had not been selected, the DDA opted to find a way to fund the program and reached out to the Frankenmuth Community Foundation.

Just as the Community Foundation stepped up and supported the local “Muth Serves” initiative for physical and financial assistance, the Foundation stepped up and matched the sum of $25,000 to the DDA’s $59,000 to fund a total of $84,000* in grants to 33 local businesses. Local businesses receiving grant funding included personal service providers and salons, professional service companies, retailers and restaurants. Each was deemed qualified according to the original MEDC rules of the grant process. Those rules restricted eligibility to those who are a for-profit, brick and mortar business, with less than 25 employees, without franchise affiliation, without previous funding from MEDC and impacted by the Covid-crisis, among a few others.

On “check giving day,” I spent my time delivering relief checks to owners of these businesses. Each was surprised to have been selected to receive a grant and each was very grateful to the Community Foundation and to the DDA for the funding. Over a few tears and some touching moments, I learned a great deal about the business people in town.

Their commitment to the community is so great it can’t be measured. The passion for their business is palpable. Their concern for their employees and their customers is heartfelt and sincere. With our relatively small grant to each of these small businesses (the largest of whom reported no more than 13 employees) there was hope that once this crisis was passed, they would hire everyone back, increase their digital presence and increase e-commerce options, buy new inventory, pay their landlords (if they had one) and keep their business open to better serve their customer.

These are the small businesses who fill in the spaces between our world-class destinations who themselves are small businesses who compete on a much bigger playing field using all the same attributes.

Not surprisingly, all these businesses mirror the attributes of the community at large: resilient, tenacious and invested. How appropriate that in the celebration of 175 years as a community, we recognize that “Muth means Courage” for every business invested in Frankenmuth represents courage.

For a complete list of awardees, click here. 

* Note:  After the awards were approved and delivered, one company, while grateful for the award, returned it as "others might need it more."  The Grant program assisted 32 businesses for a total of $82, 133. 

The Application Deadline is Closed.  

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has offered the Frankenmuth Downtown Development Authority (DDA) an opportunity to apply for grant funds to support brick and mortar, face to face businesses who are facing hardships due to the Covid 19 crisis. The grant program, called “Match on Main” is an extension of an existing MEDC-sponsored program for traditional downtowns in Michigan.

The DDA will apply for up to $50,000 in total grant funding, to be re-granted in amounts no less than $2000 to eligible businesses that submit a fully completed application . Should the main grant application be awarded to the Frankenmuth DDA, funds would be re-granted and awarded in early July 2020.
The MEDC process requires that the Frankenmuth DDA apply for the special grant with a pre-approved list of businesses who are eligible according to MEDC guidelines. There is no guarantee that the Frankenmuth DDA will receive the MEDC funding in this competitive award process, and therefore, no guarantee that any business will receive funding.  Your application will be competitive, also, as the number of businesses who can be awarded depends on the total amount of funding available.   Regardless, businesses must apply NOW in order to be considered should the Frankenmuth application be approved.
It is worth the 15 minutes it takes to complete the application.
The Application deadline is Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at Noon.
Applications received AFTER that date and time are not eligible for funding.
Who is an Eligible Business?
MEDC sets baseline requirements.  Eligible businesses 
  • Have a physical presence and active address within the City of Frankenmuth in a district zoned for commercial use; Applications from outside of the City will not be accepted.
  • Sell products or services face to face;
  • Are for-profit;
  • Are a company/corporation headquartered in Michigan;
  • Have 25 employees or less; and
  • Have been affected by the Covid 19 crisis.
Businesses which are ineligible for the grant monies include:
  • Non-profit organizations/companies;
  • Franchises;
  • Big Box Stores (in Frankenmuth, that represents retailers with square footage greater than 65,000 square feet per the City’s zoning code);
  • Bed and Breakfasts or Air B&B’s; and
  • Businesses who have received or been approved to receive financial support from the
    • Michigan Strategic Fund’s Small Business Relief Program (grant or loan) or
    • An MEDC Match on Main Grant (prior to this issue) within the past 24 months are not eligible. (It is not likely that a Frankenmuth-based business has received the previously issued Match on Main Grant.) If you are unsure, this can be checked.
Business Applications will be scored based on application responses and can receive up to a total of 100 points. Businesses will be ranked by score, from highest to lowest, with grants awarded from highest score to lower as funding is available. The Scoring criteria is:
  • The Business Owner is qualified as low to moderate income per Saginaw County standards: Max 15 points. The application document includes the 2020 Saginaw County Summary Data for your reference. MEDC prioritizes the benefit of this program to business owners of low to mod income; yet, all businesses are encouraged to apply.
  • The Total Number of Employees to be retained: Max 15 points
  • If the business was under an Executive Order that forced its closure: Max 5 points
  • Financial Resources: Max 20 points
  • Steps for success during and after Covid: Max 25 points
  • Community Investment: Max 20 points.
An owner of multiple businesses may apply for each business that is deemed eligible but must make a separate application for each.
If grant money is awarded, how can it be used? 
With a successful application, grant funding may be used by the business for working capital to support payroll expenses or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business or those that will happen to pay for COVID related expenses such as the purchase of PPE. 

Other Funding.
The Frankenmuth Community Foundation has generously matched the DDA’s pledge of $12,500 to provide additional funding (in the amount of $25,000) for a total allocation of $75,000. Per MEDC requirements, state funding will be prioritized towards businesses within the City’s historic district, followed by the DDA district at large and then to the City’s other commercial districts. While this adds a layer of complication to the process, more businesses will benefit than less.
If you have questions about this process, please email FmuthGrantMatch20@gmail.com.