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Optimize Main Street is designed to support place-based businesses located in eligible Michigan communities, by providing technology-related technical assistance and grant funding. Through the increased technology expertise and use of digital tools, participating businesses will aim to refine efficiency in business operations, improve connectivity to customers, and/or increase sales. The Optimize Main Street program is implemented through a combination of one-on-one business coaching, a customized learning module, and a $2,500 for technology grant to support project implementation.
The Optimize Main Street program is open to a select number of Michigan communities, including: Michigan Main Street programs, Redevelopment Ready Communities designated as Essentials or Certified with a population of under 15,000, and/or non-profit business support organizations or community and economic development organizations who have previously participated in Initiate Business Retention Training. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) finds value in partnering with these select communities and organizations because these entities have demonstrated existing local capacity to support new and existing small businesses. Additionally, these entities have a proven track record of providing technical assistance, training, and education to place-based businesses within their respective main street-type districts.
The MEDC has partnered with Northern Initiatives (NI), a Michigan-based CDFI, to serve as the administrator of this program. Optimize Main Street builds upon the MEDC’s ongoing partnership with Northern Initiatives - which provides increased access to the robust small business learning portal called Initiate. In addition, Optimize Main Street is MEDC’s first small business financial incentive that ties grant dollars directly to technical assistance milestones.
Optimize Main Street strives to:
Each participating community will select up to two businesses to put forth for the Optimize Main Street program, based on the organization’s sole discretion and desired selection process. Once businesses are selected, the local applicant will complete the Optimize Main Street Application (Appendix A). Within the application, the sponsoring community/non-profit will list the business(es) within their district that they have selected to participate in the program. Prior to the Optimize Main Street Application being submitted, all participating businesses must complete an online Business Technology Assessment (Appendix B). The Business Technology Assessment is estimated to take 45 minutes to complete.
Once the application window closes, the MEDC will review applications in the order in which they were received. Applications and Business Technology Assessments will be reviewed to ensure that selected businesses meet eligibility requirements. Once eligibility is determined, MEDC staff will contact selected businesses, notify them of program selection, and introduce them to their business coach at Northern Initiatives.
Due to the volume of businesses being supported with this program, businesses will be referred to Northern Initiatives in three rounds based on the order in which their applications were received. Eligible businesses put forth to participate in the Optimize Main Street program will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis until all available funding is allocated.
When the identified funding round for the awarded businesses arrives, the participating business will work directly with Northern Initiatives to complete the program requirements which must be completed within 45 days from notification of program selection.
Please reference Appendix C: Timeline & Round Assignments for additional details. Completed Community Applications (Appendix A) should be emailed to email@example.com.
Please consider attending one of the informational webinars for the Optimize Main Street program.
Once the program is announced, this section will be updated with the following information: