By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Oxford Downtown Development Authority raised nearly $10,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to make micro-grants for struggling downtown businesses.
Main Street Oakland County said it would match up to $4,000. After a couple weeks, the fund was still at $3,145.
Clark Harris, an Oxford resident and CEO of Bloomfield Hills-based Titan Wealth Advisors, was determined to make up the difference to secure the full grant from the county. $850 didn’t seem like enough, so he doubled the donation to $1,600.
He and his wife, Leslie, presented the check to the DDA June 1 on behalf of Titan Wealth Advisors.
“We miss our downtown businesses and we want to visit them as soon as possible,” Clark said. “I’m a business owner and I’m concerned that there could be businesses that don’t come back fast enough, so anything we can do for this community to make sure the businesses that we all love and enjoy being at are there when we get to come back and be together.”
DDA Executive Director Glenn Pape thanked him for the generosity. “This is very much appreciated and will go a long ways for small businesses,” he said.
Anything raised above the $4,000 still goes directly to small business owners. The campaign ended on June 12. With Titan Wealth’s contribution, 90 other donors and Oakland County’s match, that brought the fund to $9,275.
The DDA will use the money to create micro-grants of equal amounts to distribute to qualifying downtown businesses, based on need. Priority will be given to businesses that were unable to get funding through stabilization grants.
“Some of the businesses just haven’t been able to get the same level of contribution, so we wanted to focus on them first,” said Village Communications Liaison Nicole Edwards-Rankin.
Businesses can use the grants for business expenses such as: rent, mortgage, payroll, utilities, inventory, other working capital, costs associated with public health recommendations and marketing.
Qualifying businesses must require face-to-face, in-person contact and need to be located within the boundaries of the Oxford Downtown Development Authority. Businesses cannot be a franchise, major corporation or a publicly-traded business. Sole proprietors with 10 or fewer employees are encouraged to apply.
To promote the campaign, the village put 96 yard signs with slogans like “Love Oxford” in Centennial Park for anyone to take to put in their yard. Folks who took a sign were encouraged to make a donation.
The signs went fast. Because of their popularity, the village has ordered another 96. This time, priority will be given to those who have already made a donation, but didn’t get a sign the first time.
By James Hanlon