Flagstar Bank awards pair of Dowagiac businesses with COVID relief grants

DOWAGIAC — A pair of Dowagiac businesses received much-needed financial boosts this holiday season.

Flagstar Bank recently announced it will be awarding grants of $5,000 to more than 180 small businesses owned by people of color in Flagstar’s banking markets. Included in that number are Dowagiac’s Quilted Oak Leaf and Pinnacle Car Wash.

Julie Winchester-Farver, owner of the Quilted Oak Leaf, is a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Her business, located at 53480 Glenwood Road, opened a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold across the country.

“You have no idea how happy I am to receive this,” Farver said. “I have applied to a couple of other non-tribal related program funding sources and was

not awarded.”

“I truly appreciate it. It helps us to invest in our community, help our employees and to stop the spread of the virus during this critical time,” added Leo Selvarai, of Pinnacle Carwash, 101 S. Paul St.

The grants are designed to assist businesses whose operating expenses have been impacted

by COVID-19.

“Based on the overwhelming response we’ve received, I think we’ve struck at the heart of a

huge need in our communities,” said Alessandro DiNello, president and CEO of Flagstar Bank.

“The economic impact of the pandemic has hit small businesses hard, and small businesses

owned by people of color even harder. We are pleased and proud to provide critical funding at

such a critical time in the life cycle of these businesses.”

Small businesses with diverse ownership, revenues of no more than $1 million that operate in

Flagstar’s footprint of Michigan, Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana and the High Desert of San Bernardino County, California were eligible.

More than 1,200 businesses applied for the grants made available through 10 Flagstar nonprofit

partners with a mission to serve people of color in Michigan, Indiana and California.

Flagstar Bank’s nonprofit partner Chi Ishobak facilitated the grant program. Chi Ishobak is a Certified Native Community Development Financial Institution affiliated with The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

“It came together pretty quick,” said Sean Winters, executive director of Chi Ishobak. “I received a call from Matthew Wesaw, president of the Pokagon Band. He made an introduction for Flagstar Bank. It looked at its target market for its grant program and was looking for mission-driven nonprofits to administer this program. They provided the funds and we received the applications and facilitated the grant.”

According to Winters, Chi Ishobak was able to award 18 Michiana businesses with grants. More than 35 area businesses applied.

“For these folks, $5,000 is a substantial amount,” Winters said. “We received so much feedback of extreme gratitude. We even heard that some of the businesses were going to be able to keep their doors open a little longer because of the grant. You could tell how thankful these folks were.  A lot of entrepreneurs and businesses are making the proper efforts. A lot of people are working hard. We felt blessed and honored to play a small role in their efforts to stay in business.”

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