Chamber Foundation Partnership


Hopes to have first round of grant funding distributed by end of month!

BELLAIRE, MICHIGAN – The Bellaire Chamber Foundation has a new partnership with the Regional Resiliency Program, administered by Venture North Funding and Development, to support small businesses with nine or fewer employees in Alden, Bellaire, Central Lake, and Mancelona that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chamber Foundation has started fund raising to provide grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses in need through the Program that began in June 2020, fueled by a $200,000 grant to Venture North from the Consumers Energy Foundation for small businesses in Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties.  Since, then Venture North, a charitable nonprofit, has increased the size of the fund and made grants to 139 businesses totaling $348,515 with more grants to be announced soon.   Funds raised through the Chamber Foundation will solely support businesses in Alden, Bellaire, Central Lake, and Mancelona to help them remain open and stay safe.

“We are delighted that the Chamber Foundation and the Antrim County communities it serves, are becoming partners in the Regional Resiliency Program,” said Laura Galbraith, Executive Director of Venture North.  “There are great things happening in these communities and, once funds are raised, many of their businesses will benefit from grants providing a lifeline through the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Small businesses are vital to our sense of place and quality of life in Antrim County” said Foundation Board Chair, Louise Wenzel.  “Venture North and the Regional Resiliency Program provide an opportunity for our Foundation to support our local businesses that are caught in this global pandemic, the likes of which we’ve never seen.”

Wenzel said that donations or grants may be provided by businesses, individuals, foundations and organizations by contacting Louise Wenzel a 313-410-4951 or   

“We hope that sufficient funds will be granted or donated so we can have our first round of grants by late September,” Wenzel said.   “The need for small business support will dramatically increase now that we are beyond Labor Day.”

Once funds are raised, grant applications will be made available for businesses to apply.  Businesses that would like to be kept informed about the availability of RRP grants can do so by providing their contact information via Venture North’s website: . Grants to date have been used for a variety of purposes, including payroll, rent, lease supplies, safety equipment, inventory or others.  Venture North is also helping small businesses seek additional sources of support, including federal programs.  The Chamber Foundation will review and provide recommendations for funding to Venture North.

“There are many unknowns with the COVID-19 Pandemic that we are up against,” said Galbraith.  “It’s wonderful that the Chamber Foundation is stepping up to support the businesses, jobs, and families that are crucial to the small communities of Alden, Bellaire, Central Lake, and Mancelona.

Galbraith said that, in addition to the Consumers Energy Foundation, the DTE Energy Foundation, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, Brookby Family Foundation, Leelanau Township Community Foundation, Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Fifth-Third Bank, Huntington Bank, TCF Bank, private individuals and others have made grants or donations to the Regional Resiliency Fund.

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About Venture North:

Venture North provides small business loans and resources in Northern Michigan for economic and community development. As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, Venture North makes capital accessible to entrepreneurs who might not have other avenues to start or grow their business. Venture North serves low-income and rural communities across Emmet, Charlevoix, Antrim, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee, Wexford, and Missaukee counties in Northern Michigan. Venture North has financed nearly $7 million in small business loans; more information is available at