Downriver small businesses get $1.6M grant to grow regional economy

The effort to grow the Downriver regional economy through small businesses just got a $1.6 million dollar boost.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday the Economic Development Administration’s grant to support the Downriver Riverfront Communities Economic Recovery Implementation Project.

According to the governor, the grant will help Downriver community redevelop two coal plant sites and establish a new program to support local small businesses.

“I am grateful for this partnership with the Economic Development Administration and will work with anyone to grow Michigan’s economy, create good-paying jobs, and invest in every region of our great state,” the governor said. “Along with this grant, we will continue making investments to ensure that no worker is left behind during any economic transition we face.”

The news drew a response from U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District).

Debbie Dingell

She emphasized that global climate change is real and impacting communities in many ways.

Dingell said as communities transition to cleaner energy sources, everyone must be mindful of the effects on those places that have historically depended on the coal economy.

“Looking towards the future, we want to ensure the sites of the current plants are safely cleaned up and restored to protect our environment and residents, while diversifying local business to maintain a strong economic base,” Dingell said. “This funding will help support those efforts, and the work of the Downriver Community Conference will have a positive impact on our local economy and quality of life. The Downriver communities are a great place to live, raise a family, and enjoy the outdoors, and this grant will help us protect and strengthen them.”

State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) considers the grant a “huge win” for all of the Downriver communities.

Darrin Camilleri

He called it a historic investment that will help redevelop multiple waterfront sites, work toward a more sustainable economy, reinforce the small business community and ultimately create more local jobs.

“I am proud to work with the Downriver Community Conference and the Economic Development Administration to utilize our beautiful waterfront and reimagine Downriver’s future,” Camilleri said.

State Rep.

Tullio Liberati

(D-Allen Park) is anticipating what he calls “extraordinary opportunities” to materialize from the grant in impacted communities, noting new jobs, new expansion and new industries.

“While many coal communities are picking up the pieces from the economic fallout of the pandemic, the Downriver Community Conference was granted an opportunity to strengthen our shaken foundation and diversify our local economy,” Liberati said.

Now that communities are moving away from coal as a source of energy, he said the grant funds will help to transform outdated sites into new vibrant business opportunities.

“These funds will help provide a better future for us and our community,” Liberati said. “We couldn’t be more grateful.”

The grant is funded by the EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment.

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