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COVID-19 Toolkit


Chamber Family,

As confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Michigan, it is important that employers remain calm and stay informed. In fact, all Michiganders should take necessary precautions to prepare and to keep themselves and their families safe.

Our goal at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber is to ensure the health of employees and the continued safe operation of business here in Southwest Michigan. As such, I want our members to be armed with the information necessary to proceed in this rapidly evolving situation.

President Trump has declared a national emergency and is mustering the strength of the Federal government to free up $50 billion in additional funding to combat the escalating crisis. He has signed the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act" and The U.S. Congress is expected to vote on another deal offering even more aid relief to businesses and communities across the nation. 

Here in Michigan, Governor Whitmer has taken similar action to enforce social distancing, limiting gatherings and eventsclosing schools, and enforcing the shut down of restaurants, bars, and other places of public accommodation. Most recently, she issued Executive Order 2020-21 requiring all non-critical businesses to temporarily close.

Berrien, Cass, Van Buren, and surrounding counties have been approved for disaster funding through the SBA. Our community partners at the Cornerstone Alliance have compiled a list of financial resources available and are encouraging small businesses to begin the SBA application process. You can review the Three Step Process here

Below, we have compiled information from federal, state, and local officials to help educate citizens and business owners on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the novel Coronavirus. We will work diligently to disseminate more information as it becomes available.

Our Chamber stands ready to assist our members throughout this situation. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have.


Arthur Havlicek | President & CEO
Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber
(o) 269.932.4042

We at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber have launched a Buy Local Berrien! campaign on Facebook as a way to share information on how the community can support local businesses caught in the maelstrom of executive order mandates. After all, what better way to combat the potential effects of social distancing policies than with the incredible power of social media?! 

The community has more than stepped up, and this group has grown from zero to over 5,000 members in just 5 days.

On the page is a live document with take out and delivery options in our area. It includes the restaurants that have been tagged in this group so far. We are asking you to help me keep it up to date and add to it! You do not have to be a member of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber to post and/or be promoted in this group. It is to support ALL local businesses and we encourage everyone to participate.

After Governor Whitmer’s announcement of Executive Order 2020-21 Shelter in Place, many questions have been asked regarding what businesses are considered “essential.” Essential businesses and workers are defined as “those who are necessary to sustain or protect life” and “critical infrastructure workers.”

Those business categories include:

  • Communications
  • Chemical
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Dams
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Financial
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Government Facilities
  • Healthcare & Public Health
  • Information Technology
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials & Waste
  • Transportation Systems
  • Water

The Chamber wants to make clear that restaurants are considered essential infrastructure, falling under the “Food and Agriculture” category and are allowed to remain open. If they remain open, they must provide one of the following:

  • No contact delivery
  • No contact curbside
  • No contact carry-out

Additionally, critical services such a grocery stores, food banks, pharmacies, medical supply stores, gas stations/convenience stores, liquor stores, hardware stores, laundromats, banks, auto services, and pet stores will also remain open, but many are operating on reduced hours.

More information regarding what and who qualifies as “Essential Critical Infrastructure” can be found by visiting the following link from the Department of Homeland Security: CISA Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastrucutre Workers.

For guidelines on what you can or cannot do while the "Shelter-in-Place" order is in effect, download this PDF.

Suppliers: Does your business have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that can support organizations responding to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak? Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) is looking for suppliers capable of filling critical needs through immediate supply or manufacturing capability of these items. Please visit the site and see if your business is able to provide any of the needs listed. 

Below are some of the relief programs that have been made available to small businesses struggling due to COVID-19. Our community partners at the Cornerstone Alliance can help you identify which program is right for you and your business. If you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to them.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has designated COVID-19 as a qualifying event for the provision of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for businesses and private non-profits in declared zones. SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDLs) funds come directly from the U.S. Treasury. Applicants do not go through a bank to apply, and instead, apply directly to SBA’s Disaster Assistance Program

Actual loan amounts are based on the amount of economic injury. These loans provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing because of COVID-19. The EIDL helps meet the necessary financial obligations that your business or private non-profit organization could have met had the disaster not occurred. EIDLs do not replace lost sales or revenue.

To apply, you can locate the online application here. If you prefer to submit your application by mail, please print, complete and return your application. 

You can visit for more information or look at the three step loan process by clicking here: Three step process to SBA disaster loans. 

MEDC Michigan Small Business Relief Programs


The MEDC has approved up to $10 million in grant funding to one or more local economic development organizations or nonprofit economic development organizations to provide grants up to $10,000 to support certain small businesses statewide that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Amount per lead local economic development partner will be determined based on potential impact per region. Funds will be available on or about April 1, 2020. 

Please see this attachment for more details: Michigan Small Business Relief Program: Grants


The MEDC has approved up to $10 million for small business loans to one or more Community Development Financial Institution (“CDFI”) or a licensed SBA not-for-profit institutions (“Eligible SBA Non-Profit”), or directly from the MSF to eligible

borrowers to be used to provide low-interest loans with flexible repayment terms to support certain small businesses statewide that have realized a significant financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Loans to eligible borrowers must be $50,000 or more and are capped at $200,000. 

Please see this attachment for more details: Michigan Small Business Relief Program: Loans

MEDC Capital Access Program

As small and medium-sized businesses across the state are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, existing programs within Capital Access provide opportunities to access financing that may not otherwise be available. Any business that has been affected by COVID-19 is eligible to receive support through the Collateral Support and Loan Participation programs. Participating lenders across the state are encouraged to work with their existing business customers to consider whether these programs could offer access to critical capital. Available programs include:

  • Capital Access Program: The Capital Access Program (CAP), is available to assist businesses with capital needs. Similar to a loan loss reserve fund, the bank, the company and the MSF pay a small premium into a reserve that makes it possible for the company to receive fixed asset and working capital financing. (More information provided below)
  • Collateral Support Program: The Collateral Support Program works to provide cash collateral accounts to lending institutions to enhance the collateral coverage of borrowers. This program seeks to enable borrowers to acquire the necessary financing that may otherwise be unavailable due to a collateral shortfall. (More information provided below)
  • Loan Participation Program: The MEDC can participate with a lender for new financing that decreases the lender’s credit exposure. For projects with speculative cash flows, the MEDC may offer a grace period on repayments. (More information provided below)

You can find more information about the MEDC's Capital Access program here: Access to Capital

Cornerstone Alliance Microloan Program

Additionally, Cornerstone Alliance is an SBA intermediary that provides microloan funding for small businesses. Microloans are available for $500 to $50,000 to businesses located in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties. For more information about the microloan program, visit here or contact Dubelsa Mata-Garcia at

Unemployment Benefits

Financial Relief for Business

Federal Relief 

HR Resources

General Resources for Employers

Disinfection and Cleaning

Health Related Resources

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) has launched a COVID-19 Hotline. Public health and other experts will answer health-related questions about COVID-19. The team can also direct residents and providers to the right resources in their local communities and in other state government departments.

The hotline will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136.

Visit the following links for the most current information from DHHS:

Best Practices

Local Links

Following are links to a variety of resources provided by the Berrien County Health Department to help educate citizens on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus.  

Information in Multiple Languages:

CDC Guidance Information For:

Healthcare Professionals.     Travel Recommendations      Faith-Based Organizations
Community Events & Gatherings       Businesses & Employers      Colleges & Universities
Law Enforcement & 1st Responders.     Childcare & Schools      Long Term Care Facilities

Other CDC Resources:

Useful Links for Employers and Employees

Following are links to a variety of resources provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help educate employers and employees on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus.