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See which MI theatres, music venues are approved for federal grants

Money
Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio

At the beginning of June, the $16 billion federal grant program designed to help small businesses forced to close down entirely during the pandemic hadn’t approved a single Michigan business for a grant. Now the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program has approved 60 Michigan businesses – but getting approved and actually getting paid aren’t the same thing.

NPR has previously reported how applicants to the program have waited, in some cases months, before hearing whether their application was approved. Even after winning approval for a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), it can take weeks for businesses to get paid.

Nearly half of the grant funding awarded to Michigan businesses is approved to go to several NCG Cinemas movie theatre locations in mid-Michigan. NCG did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it has actually received the grant money for any of its locations. The funding formula for SVOG is based on a businesses’ earned revenue from 2019.

Many different types of businesses may be eligible for the SVOG. Live music venue operators, theatrical production companies, museums, and movie theatres all could be eligible. The program was signed into law on December 27, 2020. When the website for applications went live in April, NPR reported it crashed, and technical difficulties continued to be a problem for the system for months.

In Michigan, NCG cinemas has been awarded the lion’s share of funding so far, but approvals cover a wide range of businesses. A paint and pour shop in Ypsilanti has been approved for a grant worth more than $92 thousand. The Blissfest music festival in Petoskey, Go Comedy Improv Theater in Ferndale, and the Strand Theatre in Sturgis, Michigan are all among the 60 in-state businesses approved for SVOG as of Monday. Specific data about Michigan businesses approved for SVOG is available here.

The Small Business Administration (which runs the SVOG program) says as of mid-day Monday it had approved 2,390 out of 14,638 SVOG applications nationwide. The Monday report also says the SBA has reached a decision whether to decline or approve 52% of all SVOG applications at that time.

A spokesperson for the Small Business Administration (SBA), Andrea Roebker, could not provide Michigan Radio with a total number of SVOG applications originating from businesses in Michigan, nor would they disclose the number of Michigan businesses denied a grant.

“(SVOG application) declines are not part of public record, yet we are providing the detail in aggregate … in effort for program transparency,” Roebker said.

If a SVOG-grantee has also been awarded a Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan (another federal COVID-19 economic relief program), than the amount of the PPP loan is deducted from a grantee’s SVOG amount.

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