The first recipient of a new program that offers rent assistance to small businesses in Downtown Howell has been selected.

Silverstone Jewelers will receive funding support through the rental subsidy partnership that was announced at the end of 2018 by Lake Trust Credit Union and Howell Main Street Inc. to drive community development through small business. Through the program, Howell Main Street will provide rental assistance for up to 12 months for businesses that choose to locate in the core downtown district. In addition, the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce is offering a free one year membership to the selected businesses. For the 2019 pilot year, only two businesses will be accepted and funded under the program, which is said to have generated a lot interest from businesses looking to open or expand. Silverstone has been in downtown Howell for four years but as it continued to grow, more space was needed.

Howell Main Street Inc. Chief Operating Officer and Downtown Development Authority Director Cathleen Edgerly tells WHMI Silverstone Jewelers is the first business selected to receive rental support and they’re really excited about their continued growth and prosperity in the downtown but also being able to help the owner as she continues to grow her business and retail line. Edgerly says Silverstone moved into a new space on East Grand River by Cleary’s Pub and updated the interior of the building to aid in the expansion of its retail line and this will be a great location for them. In order to be eligible, businesses must meet a variety of criteria. Businesses had to demonstrate a marketing and business plan, as well as financial backing, but be willing to work with the downtown and Chamber of Commerce, be open for events and activities, and be able to show a record of success for existing businesses. Edgerly says Silverstone was able to achieve all of those. She notes they’ve had quite a bit of interest in the rental assistance program, which is the first of its kind to debut in Michigan – encouraging local entrepreneurship and a unique blend of businesses.

Two businesses will be selected each year to pilot the program. Edgerly says they still have one availability and a couple of applications that are pending review. More information about the rental subsidy program can be found through the link. (JM)