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Optimize Main Street is a pilot program that will support place-based businesses located in select or master level Michigan Main Street districts by providing technology-related technical assistance and grant funding. By expanding technology expertise and the 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 up to $2,500 in a technology grant.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) finds value in piloting the Optimize Main Street program in Michigan Main Street Districts because of the existing local capacity available to support new and existing small businesses. By participating in the Michigan Main Street program, communities have previously demonstrated the ability to provide technical assistance, training, and education to place-based businesses within their respective districts. Each local Michigan Main Street Program is eligible to select up to five small businesses to participate in the pilot program.
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 the MEDC’s first small business financial incentive that ties grant dollars directly to technical assistance milestones.
Optimize Main Street strives to:
Each participating select or master level Michigan Main Street program will complete the Optimize Main Street Application (Appendix A). Within the application, the Michigan Main Street organization will list the businesses within their district that they have selected to participate in the pilot program (maximum of 5 businesses). 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 30 minutes to complete.
Once businesses have been selected at the local level and have been accepted into the program, the business will receive notification from the MEDC. The MEDC will direct business owners to begin the program – which includes attending two one-on-one business coaching sessions (not to exceed 2 hours in total), reviewing a customized educational track of technology-related resources through Initiate, receiving grant funds up to $2,500 to assist with technology implementation, and ultimately completing the post-grant award survey which will be sent in January 2023.
In order to be eligible for the grant award, the business will have 45 days to complete the technical assistance requirements.
The Optimize Main Street program will be administered in three separate funding rounds. Individual Select and master level Michigan Main Street organizations will be assigned to one funding round. Please reference Appendix C: Timeline & Round Assignments for additional details.
Once the program is announced, this section will be updated with the following information:
Need marketing materials to share with businesses in your Michigan Main Street district? We've created templates that you can use below.