This article was originally published on BLAC® Finance.

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II joined Michigan Women Forward (MWF), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Huntington National Bank and the Ballmer Group yesterday to announce the launch of a new $10 million microbusiness loan program for women and entrepreneurs of color in Michigan.

The Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will provide opportunities for those who are socially and economically disadvantaged due to a lack of access to capital and credit, as well as boost the economy throughout Michigan. As the managing organization, MWF will have more flexibility with lending to entrepreneurs than traditional financial institutions, allowing microbusinesses the same opportunity as larger companies. This program is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to help all Michiganders succeed by expanding opportunities for small businesses across our state.

“To build a strong economy, we need to make sure that every Michigander can be part of our state’s economic momentum. That’s why we are making this investment today to help women, veterans, and entrepreneurs of color start and grow their successful businesses,”

“Team Michigan, together with our community and economic partners, is making it clear that here, in Michigan, we welcome people of all backgrounds to launch their ideas and build their futures in our great state.” 


MWF will manage the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund by processing applications that come through its website, along with referrals made by its banking institution partners. Huntington National Bank will provide an additional pool of applicants through its Lift Local Business® program that supports minority-, women- and veteran-owned small businesses.

“Providing access to capital for small businesses that impact the economy in our communities is important to Huntington. Programs like the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund are excellent resources to aid business owners who may not otherwise qualify for traditional loans through banks or other financial institutions,” said Sandy Pierce, senior executive vice president and chair of Michigan at Huntington National Bank. “We are proud to work with Michigan Women Forward, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Ballmer Group to bring this new lending solution to fruition.”


Entrepreneurs will be able to apply for up to $50,000 in loans through this program. With the average loan managed by MWF at $25,000, the Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund will be able to assist approximately 400 entrepreneurs. Last year, the nonprofit organization provided 88 loans for $2.456 million invested in primarily women-owned businesses.

Economic Opportunity is important because it helps create jobs, strengthen communities and grow our economy. This program will make a difference in the lives of Michigan residents who need access to capital and credit.

Women, veterans and entrepreneurs of color can apply for Michigan Economic Opportunity Fund loans by visiting

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