The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is better known to most as President Obama's plan to stimulate the economy. It's been a hot topic, to say the very least, but now that the funding is available, folks are interested in how they can get their hands on some of the cash.Two hundred or so small business owners, money lenders, and community leaders either turned out or tuned in to Thursday's U.P.-wide Community Development & Federal Funding Workshop to hear what stimulus money is available in the U.P.
"What we're doing is we're doing the presentation here in Marquette, but we're beaming it out to Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Gogebic Community College and Bay de Noc Community College," explained Tom Baldini, Congressional Aide of Rep. Bart Stupak.
Presenters from the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA Rural Development) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) explained how American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding can help U.P. businesses blossom.
So far, $13.4 billion has been lent to small businesses nationally as part of the stimulus package.
"A lot of people, quite frankly, are trying to buy themselves a job through entrepreneurship. And let's face it, as I mentioned in my presentation this morning, small businesses are the only way we're going to grow jobs in Michigan," said Catherine Gase of the SBA.
I asked Gase what kinds of small businesses are coming to the SBA asking for a chunk of stimulus money. She says it's all across the board, from Main Street restaurants and bike shops to hair salons and high tech companies. The SBA can guarantee bank loans of up to a million dollars or more. And that's just what the President's stimulus plan was designed to do.
"Small business lending is up; job creation is up; it's still not a rosy picture, but it's a far cry from where it was a year ago today," Gase said.
More than half in attendance at Thursday's workshop either are small business owners or are entrepreneurial hopefuls. And with the stimulus money that's available, the SBA says that small businesses might be the future of the state of Michigan.
11:30 a.m., Newsroom
This morning at Northern Michigan University and via video-conference to other U.P. schools, representatives from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Small Business Administration spoke about American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.
My story will focus specifically on the stimulus funds available for small businesses and the opportunities entrepreneurs have as the U.S. economy gets back on its feet.
Check back for updates throughout the day here at uppermichiganssource.com. And for the full story, tune in tonight at 10 for your FOX UP News.