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The beginning of the business lifecycle is known to be the riskiest time for entrepreneurs and small-business owners, and a time when funds, knowledge and networks uniquely influence the likelihood of business success. The Kauffman Foundation affirms this, citing that 81 percent of funding for new business ventures comes through net worth, family wealth or network connections. For underserved populations including people of color, women, persons with disabilities, immigrants, military veterans, racial or ethnic minority groups and refugees, these sources are in short supply or do not exist at all. Thus, there is a severe underrepresentation of these populations in our society as entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

To increase opportunities for underserved individuals across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties to successfully pursue entrepreneurship and small business ownership, LEAP is launching One&All, an inclusive entrepreneurship program that will provide $2,500 grants and a hybrid model of incubator and accelerator business support for up to 120 startup or small-business entrepreneurs from underserved populations across the Lansing region. One&All is the first program of its kind in the state of Michigan and is generously funded with a $300,000 contribution from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Innovative Fund and $200,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation.

“As we look ahead to recovery efforts in the wake of the impact COVID-19 has had here in Michigan, providing pathways for economic success for all individuals here in the state will be more important than ever,” said Lt. Govenor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Michigan’s entreprenurial spirit is what keeps us moving ahead when times are hard, and fuels our growth in times of recovery. The One&All initative will help keep that spirit strong here in Mid-Michigan by ensuring that entrepreneurs of color have the support they need to chart a path toward success.”

The Consumers Energy Foundation is donating $1.8 million to nine organizations today to provide a lifeline to small businesses across Michigan – focusing in particular on helping female- and minority-owned businesses. In all, the Consumers Energy Foundation has given more than $3 million to meet the needs of Michigan residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including $200,000 to support the One&All program.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and have been significantly impacted during this unprecedented time,” said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “Consumers Energy is committed to helping Michigan’s small business community succeed now, more than ever. We are making an investment in our communities, business owners, workers and their families, and a commitment to help power through together.” 

LEAP’s One&All program offers a unique combination of immersive business training, coaching, access to an extended professional network and seed investment—all of which are common obstacles to success for entrepreneurs and small-business owners from underserved populations. To reach potential applicants and deliver effective programming and support, LEAP will partner with many community organizations including the Refugee Development Center (RDC), the Fledge, Mid-Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Capital Area United Way (CAUW), Peckham, Beyond our Barriers (B.O.B.), Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW!), and the MEDC.

To be eligible for the One&All program, applicants must fall at or below the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) Threshold and must need equal opportunity and access to all available resources that support their entrepreneurial aspirations. Program applicants can either be in the idea stage of a business or be looking to pivot and grow an existing small business. LEAP will also target up to 50 percent of program awards specifically to residents who meet the minimum program eligibility and who are non-English speakers or learning English as a second language (ESL).

“It’s a sad reality that many would be entrepreneurs and small-business owners fail or never even get started because they do not have access to the opportunities that enable success, simply by virtue of who they are. LEAP will not leave anyone behind in our economic development plans for the Lansing region. One&All is an important, non-traditional way to strengthen our economy,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP. “LEAP is beyond thrilled and most thankful to be joined by the MEDC and the Consumers Energy Foundation and we are deeply appreciative of their investment in leveling the playing field for underserved entrepreneurs and small-business owners across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties.”

The One&All program will begin taking applications in June 2020. For more information about program eligibility, the application review process and to sign up to receive program milestone updates, visit purelansing.com/OneAndAll

About LEAP
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all–working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing, Michigan, region.

About Consumers Energy Foundation
The Consumers Energy Foundation is the charitable arm of Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider. The Foundation enables communities to thrive and grow by investing in what’s most important to Michigan — its people, our planet and Michigan’s prosperity. For more information about the Consumers Energy Foundation, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/foundation.