The Flint Water Crisis has led to a call for action on several fronts. To respond to the needs of the Flint business community, the Moving Flint Forward Initiative was launched in March by the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.
The centerpiece of Moving Flint Forward is the Genesee Chamber Foundation's new charitable fund created to provide financial support for small businesses, minority-owned businesses, North Flint redevelopment, and activities that encourage tourism. The Moving Flint Forward Fund of the Foundation for Flint helps bridge that gap.
FlintNow, a private-sector initiative by Tom Gores, Chairman and CEO of Platinum Equity and owner of the Detroit Pistons, serves as a strategic partner to the Moving Flint Forward Initiative. Gores, who grew up in Flint, announced a $10 million pledge to support a broad range of short and long-term relief efforts in Flint, and created the FlintNow Foundation as a cornerstone of his campaign.
Huntington Bank in partnership with FlintNow made the first gift to the Moving Flint Forward Fund. In June, FlintNow, Huntington Bank and the Chamber announced that 30 Flint businesses would receive grants totaling $265,500.
"We knew a philanthropic partner would be critical in helping small businesses with short-term relief as part of a longer-term initiative to help revitalize the Flint economy," said Jim Dunlap, Huntington's lead executive for Michigan and regional banking and Private Client Group director. "We are glad to see the money getting into the community in a timely manner."
Moving Flint Forward grants range from $5,000 to $10,000 to cover general business needs such as new equipment, repairs, inventory, working capital, water filtration systems and reimbursements, vendor payment and marketing/advertising needs. The Flint water crisis damaged businesses far and wide impacting multiple industries such as restaurants, real estate, manufacturing services, retail, and logistics.
"The business grants are an important step in Flint's and many small businesses' recovery," said Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. "The funds can literally help keep the doors open, retain jobs, or bring in new customers."
Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. To be eligible, applicants have to own and operate a business within the City of Flint and prove financial hardship as a result of the current economy and water crisis. Special consideration is given for minority-owned businesses.