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Huntington to start $5 billion lending plan to help minority and women owned businesses

Grand Blanc Bakery owned by mother and daughter turned down for loans repeatedly during pandemic
Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 12:02 AM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) -Huntington Bancshares Inc. is reaching out to those hardest hit during COVID-19 -- businesses owned by minorities and women.

Whether it was dependence on foot traffic in urban areas, a struggle to connect online with customers or trouble getting access to coronavirus-relief federal loans, many are at risk of closing as COVID-19 keeps us at a distance.

A mother-daughter owned bakery in Grand Blanc calls the plan announced by Governor Gretchen Whitmer today a blessing. Their small business was turned down nearly a dozen times before getting a financial lifeline.

A Taste of Heaven is a custom bakery and catering company that was built with the savings and longtime dreams of mother daughter pair Marsha Matthon and Reggie Littlejohn. But, when the pandemic hit, like all small businesses, they struggled.

“It was a hard time. You didn’t know whether to invest your own money or close your doors,” Littlejohn said. She says they applied for 10 small business loans and grants, then waited “We got back so many applications that said not enough funds - try next time,” she said.

They would be turned down again and again. Matthon said they felt alone in their fight to stay afloat. Finally, in July, an email from the small business administration and a lifeline loan and grant.

But Governor Gretchen Whitmer says many other minority owned businesses weren’t so lucky. Tuesday, she unveiled Huntington’s new 5 billion dollar loan and investment program aimed at helping to level the playing field for minority and female owned businesses.

“It gives me hope because they are targeting certain businesses now to help,” said Littlejohn.

A Taste of Heaven is located in Grand Blanc and donates all remaining food weekly to local shelters. Even throughout COVID -- and their own tough times.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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