It might not seem like much, but nearly 56,000 Michigan musicians, waiters, and many others who couldn’t work due to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown are getting a little bit of help this week, if they applied for it back in January.

The state said Wednesday that individuals who work in entertainment, recreational and indoor food-service venues will begin receiving grant payments of $793. Applications were processed through the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association Educational Foundation (MRLAEF).   The original plan called for $1,650 to be paid out.  90,000 applied for the help, and when those applications were reviewed, the payout ended up being less than half of the originally intended payments. 

The grants are part of the Employee Assistance Grants program, which was created through a $45 million bipartisan budget appropriation signed by Governor Whitmer in late 2020. Individuals whose employment was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic were eligible to apply for the grants in January. 

WKMI logo
Get our free mobile app

 “As we continue to address the effects of COVID-19, our top priority is providing financial relief to Michigan families and small businesses, so that we can grow our economy and get back to normal,” Governor Whitmer said. “This special grant program puts dollars in the pockets of Michiganders who work in hospitality, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services sectors -- as well as the gym and fitness sectors. These Michiganders have made great sacrifices and continue to make great sacrifices as we fight COVID-19.” 

Michiganders impacted by the MDHHS pandemic orders must have been working in one of the following industries to qualify for an Employee Assistance Grant: 

  • Bars
  • Banquet Halls
  • Bowling Alleys
  • Cafeterias
  • Casinos
  • Caterers
  • Food Trucks
  • Golf Courses
  • Hotels, Motels, Bed & Breakfast, Resorts
  • Nightclubs
  • Restaurants
  • Theaters
  • And other such recreational facilities.

The MRLAEF processed the applications in January and February and notified applicants of approval or denial. The Michigan Department of Treasury began mailing checks to approved grant recipients on March 17. 

“Michigan’s restaurant and hotel employees need help,” said Justin Winslow, President & CEO of the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. “We are honored to administer these much-needed grants. These dollars provide assistance for the hardship experienced during these extraordinary times.”   

Applicants must have been Michigan residents, demonstrated proof of employment in one of the industries noted above on Nov. 18, 2020, when the MDHHS pandemic orders took effect, and proved being negatively impacted financially because of furlough, layoff, job loss or a reduction in hours worked. 

The MRLAEF founded the Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund early in 2020 after the first “Stay Home, Stay Safe” precautions. The foundation has raised several million dollars for displaced restaurant and hotel workers, processing many checks for those in need, including CARES Act dollars approved by the Michigan Legislature and signed by Governor Whitmer.  

More information about the grant program is available on the Employee Assistance Grants website.  


LOOK: 15 Discontinued McDonald's Menu Items

More From WKMI