Michigan Launches "Afflicted Businesses" Grant Program TODAY!
Nearly two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Michigan is continuing to design new programs to help support Michigan businesses that were negatively impacted by the pandemic and resulting economic shutdowns. Beginning March 1, 2022, Michigan will distribute up to $409 million under the new Afflicted Business Relief (ABR) grant program. Eligible businesses can apply beginning March 1, 2022 through March 31, 2022. Grants are not first-come, first-serve, but instead may be prorated depending on the number of eligible businesses that apply.

Eligible Businesses

To be eligible, a business must meet three criteria: (1) it must not be tax exempt, (2) it must not be a government entity, and (3) it must fit into one of the following categories:

Entertainment Venue, including auditoriums, arenas, banquet halls, cinemas, concert halls, conference centers, performance venues, sporting venues, stadiums, and theaters;
Recreational Facility or Place of Amusement, including amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, casinos, nightclubs, skating rinks, water parks, and trampoline parks;
Cosmetology or Barber Services;
Exercise Facility or Gym;
Food Service Establishment;
Nursery Dealer or Grower;
Athletic Trainer;
Body Art Facility; or
Hotel or Bed & Breakfast.
Businesses will also need to complete an online application and provide financial documentation and information to verify their decline in Michigan total sales from 2019 to 2020, to verify fixed costs in 2020 (for new businesses which opened after October 2019), and enter into a beneficiary agreement with the state.

Financial Hardship

Financial hardship means an amount equal to an afflicted business’s decline in total sales in Michigan. To calculate this amount, the business sums the following:

Base Hardship: which is either (i) the amount of Michigan property taxes paid in 2020, or (ii) if the business leases and does not pay property taxes, 17% of the lease costs in 2020; plus
State Unemployment Insurance: 50% of the state unemployment insurance taxes paid in 2020; plus
Select Fees Paid: any liquor license fee, licensee or food inspection fee paid, and any license or inspection fee paid other than the two described.
When calculating total sales, businesses must add to total sales any forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans, any federal Restaurant Revitalization receipts, and all other state and local awards.

Award Methodology

Eligible businesses are divided into two categories: businesses in operation on October 1, 2019 and those that were not in operation on October 1, 2019, but started before June 1, 2020. For businesses in the first category, the grant is based on the percent decline in year-to-year total sales and is capped at the lesser of the amount of the financial hardship or $5 million. 

For new businesses – those formed after October 1, 2019 but before June 1, 2020 – the grant award is 25% of the financial hardship, which represents their calendar year fixed costs.

For more information and to apply, click here:  https://www.michigan.gov/abr

New Guidance:  Most in Michigan Can Ditch Their Masks for Now
The federal government gave its blessing on Friday to making masks optional indoors for broad swaths of the nation, including for residents in 66 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

In a nod to waning COVID-19 infection across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday suggested that mask wearing should be optional in counties where COVID spread is low and hospitals are no longer strained by COVID patients.

Under the CDC’s new three-tied risk system, which asks local officials to look beyond just new case numbers, most Michigan counties meet the “mask-optional” guidance.  

In fact, about 70 percent of the U.S. population now can feel more comfortable about going maskless indoors, though the CDC makes clear that individuals have different levels of risk. 

The tiers are based on three factors: a community’s case rates, new COVID-related hospital admissions, and the number of beds occupied by COVID patients. County risk levels can be found here at the CDC’s homepage, as well as a more detailed list of recommendations, including the recommendation to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Under the CDC’s new advisory system:

Residents in low-level counties should consider mask wearing based on “personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.” 
Residents in medium-level counties should talk to a health provider and consider masks indoors if they are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness. Anyone who lives with or has social contact with someone at high risk for severe illness, should consider testing and masking indoors.
Residents in high level counties should wear a well-fitting mask in public indoors, including in K-12 schools and other community settings, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk.
The new guidance was not unexpected.

Less than a month ago, as omicron continued to batter the country and Michigan, the CDC stepped up mask recommendations by asking people to wear N95s or any other high-quality mask they could wear comfortably and “consistently.” 

But cases and hospitalizations have plummeted since then.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer dialed back the state’s mask recommendations just over a week ago, even as the final few county health departments that still had school mask mandates rescinded theirs.

Some of the mandates were lifted immediately; others — including Oakland and Washtenaw counties — were effective Feb. 28, meaning students would have returned to mask-optional classrooms, anyway, Monday.

But expect to see masks in plenty of places still in Michigan, at least in the immediate future. Michigan hospitals are likely to keep mask policies for visitors in place, for example. Spokespeople for some of the largest health systems — the newly merged Spectrum and Beaumont health systems, known as BHSH, Trinity Health Michigan, and Michigan Medicine — said patients and visitors still must be masked.

And a mask mandate remained in place Friday at Detroit Public Schools Community District, and will likely stay in place for some time, according to a statement by Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti, noting once again “the city’s lower vaccination rates and higher transmission rates.”

The guidance is unlikely to change everyday behavior for many in a state where residents have already decided to keep or ditch masks. The guidance makes clear that everyone’s risk level may be different, especially for those who are immunocompromised or face high risk of severe COVID disease.

But for others, the Friday announcement forces yet another difficult calculus.

Customers at The Rocket, a gift and candy store in downtown Ypsilanti, were required to wear masks through Friday, according to a sign at the front door, standing alongside a large bottle of hand sanitizer.

The new CDC guidance “gives the green light for everybody to come into the store and give you problems,” said owner Eli Morrissey.

So he said he will downgrade the directions to “recommending” masks. Already, increasingly angry customers had been harassing his staff, he said. 

“The abuse — it was making it really difficult on my employees,” he said. “It’s hard to enforce a mask policy when no one else” requires a mask.

States 4 Year H.S. Grad Rate Falls But Improves Over 5, 6 Years
The percentage of Michigan high school students graduating in four years fell for the first time in five years in the 2020-21 school year, from 82.07 percent to 80.47 percent, according to data released Friday by the state via the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Innovation.

The percentage of students dropping out, however, also fell from 7.77 percent to 7.65 percent, continuing a trend from the previous three years.

A statement from the State Budget Office said Michigan’s decline in the four-year graduation rate was "like many states across the country." The State Budget Office pointed to California, (-0.6 percentage point), Illinois (-2 percent) and Idaho (-2 percent) as examples.

In January, Chalkbeat reported that high school graduation rates fell in at least 20 states.

"While the data show that a smaller percentage of high school students graduated last school year, they also show that fewer students dropped out," CEPI Executive Director Tom Howell said in a statement. "During the second year of the pandemic, students in the class of 2021 who fell behind are choosing to remain in school, working toward completion."

Indeed, while the four-year graduation rate fell, the five-year rate increased by 0.14 percentage point to 84.58 percent and the six-year rate increased by 0.61 percentage point to 85.09 percent.

"As in many different ways and areas, the pandemic has had an adverse impact on four-year graduation rates for most but not all groups of students and especially so for certain groups of students: economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, Black and Native American students, and homeless students," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Rice. "Graduation rates had increased in eight of the last nine years. While we remain considerably higher at 80.5 percent than we were a decade ago at 74.3 percent in our four-year graduation rate, we have a particular need to make sure that graduation delayed is not graduation denied and that our students graduate and do so with the requisite knowledge and skills to continue in some form of postsecondary education."


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MRA January Sales Fell Sharply After Strong December
Retail sales during the month of January were down noticeably from stronger reported activity during the holiday season in December 2021, the Michigan Retailers Association reported Thursday.

In its January Retail Index survey, activity rated at 58.3 for the month. This was a sharp drop from the 77.7 registered in December 2021 during the holiday shopping season.

Nearly half of retailers in the state surveyed, 46 percent, reported decreases in sales during January. Another 31 percent reported sales increases while the remaining 23 percent reported no change from the previous survey.

The seasonally adjusted performance index is conducted by the Michigan Retailers Association monthly in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity, with the higher the number above 50 meaning increasingly stronger levels of activity.

"Following a record holiday season, it’s not abnormal to see a dip in sales," MRA President and CEO William Hallan said in a Thursday statement. "Sales have a seasonal swing and typically the start of the year reflects it."

When surveyed on their views of a three-month outlook, about 61 percent of retailers said they believed sales will rebound through the next three months. Another 26 percent expected sales to remain about the same and the remaining 13 percent expected a potential decline.

For this three-month index of the look ahead, the rating was 64.8 percent. This was down from 72.3 reported in December 2021.

There were concerns about rising product costs and wages, as well supply chain constraints affecting businesses reported in the survey. Mr. Hallan in his statement did maintain that there is optimism among members despite some concerns over product supply issues potentially remaining persistent into 2023 or 2024 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"With the current challenges retailers face, and adding cold temperatures and snowstorms into the mix, retailers are looking forward to spring. Their optimism remains high," Mr. Hallan said.


DCD continues to exist as the premier resource helping municipalities navigate the waters of cannabis policy. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding medical or recreational cannabis policy, procedure, and more. DCD is available for presentations to municipal boards, for one-on-one meetings, and for consultations.

We are here to help you with: municipal lobbying, license application writing and assistance, business plans, state required operations manuals and compliance, facility design, corporate structure, and design and branding. 

We are experts in both medical and recreational cannabis policy and have been in the space for over ten years.  We welcome any opportunity to work with you in the future! 


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