CADILLAC — Starting today, local businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic will have another opportunity to apply for financial assistance to help them stay afloat.

Businesses in Wexford and Missaukee counties may apply for up to $5,000 in assistance beginning May 17 at 8 a.m. and ending May 28 at 5 p.m. through the Regional Resiliency Program.

Venture North Funding and Development administers the program, which was created in 2020 to help businesses with nine or fewer full-time employees recover from the pandemic. This program was seeded with a grant of $200,000 by the Consumers Energy Foundation in 2021 for the 10-county Venture North region.

The program will be coordinated in the Wexford County and Missaukee County area through the Cadillac Area Community Foundation. Funding of $40,000 for the two counties was allocated by Venture North and $10,000 in grants from Cadillac Area Community Foundation, Missaukee Area Community Foundation, and the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau. The grant application must be completed online at www.venturenorthfunding.org.

The foundations formed a team of local representatives to review grant applications and make funding recommendations that Venture North will follow in making grant awards of no more than $5,000. Funds provided can be used for urgent needs and adapting businesses to operate within the challenges of COVID-19.

“We are excited about working with Doreen Lanc, the foundations and the local team to provide relief to help small businesses in the two counties,‘ said Laura Galbraith, president of Venture North. “It takes about 30 minutes to complete and submit the application that is online at www.venturenorthandfunding.org. If anyone has difficulty completing the application, let us know, and we will help.‘

“Supporting the recovery of the two counties from COVID-19 is one of our priorities for the Community Foundation ,‘ said Doreen Lanc, executive director of the foundation. “The pandemic has devastated the financial health of businesses, including significant disruption of their customer and supplier base. While these grants won’t solve all needs involving the pandemic, they will provide a financial boost, encouragement and a pledge by Venture North to businesses to provide technical assistance and identify other programs that may help.‘

Venture North, a tax exempt nonprofit, and partners continue to seek added donations to the RRP to meet the demand.

“Any entity or person can donate to the RRP program and know that 100 percent of their contribution will be used for grants to eligible small businesses that apply for funding,‘ Galbraith said. Funds may be donated online at “Donate to the RRP‘ at www.venturenorthfunding.org or by calling (231) 995-7110.

“Our core business is financing the growth and development of small businesses in the 10-county area. We are a certified Community Development and Financing Institution (CDFI), and a big area of focus is helping businesses in communities with economic distress,‘ Galbraith said. “We are also able to consider flexible financing terms and rates.‘

“While we most certainly will have better days ahead, we must do everything possible to support others now,‘ said Lanc. “Together, we can provide support and encouragement to get through one of the most devastating periods in our lifetime.‘