Bullseye Power LLC is a small business specializing in turbochargers and racing components located on the outskirts of Muskegon, which is situated due east of Milwaukee but separated by nearly 100 miles of Lake Michigan. Per its website: “Founded in 2003, Bullseye Power LLC. was created through passion and excitement for high-performance turbocharging in both gasoline and diesel applications.” Bulleye’s revenue, like many automotive companies distributed throughout the world, is dependent upon Internal-Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles and, like many more rural companies, employs a palpable percentage of the town’s 37,552 residents. In a Zen world, all is well.
But the world constantly moves, and so does the marketplace.
And the current shift isn’t a natural, smooth transition over time as you would expect of a century-old, gas-fueled marketplace, but a radical change induced, in part, by governments around the world. For instance, the Biden administration passed a bipartisan law that invested $7.5 billion into Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure because, as the Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, stated it “… time is running out in the fight against climate change.” In January of 2021, California’s Governor Newsom mandated zero emissions from all passenger cars and light trucks in California by 2035 since they, “… pose a direct threat to the environment, the economy and public health.” And it’s not the U.S. alone: the EU announced its aim to have at least 30 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads by 2030, and China imposed a mandate requiring that electric vehicles comprise 40% of all vehicle sales by 2030.
So small businesses like Bullseye Power LLC face a difficult battle: stay afloat now, but somehow pivot simultaneously.
To combat this in 2021, the Economic Development Administration released the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, which was a $1 billion initiative to “supercharge local economies.” The mainstream media reported these grants were specifically a pandemic relief program, but the distributed funds went to twenty-one (21) lead institutions across the continental United States and Alaska for a variety of industries. Of those institutions, four were allotted for advanced mobility and aerospace in Michigan, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
“Just about a year ago, our greater Detroit region was awarded a $52 million grant to drive the six pillars of our regional coalition called the Global Epicenter of Mobility or GEM,” states Ashlee Breitner, the Managing Director of the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute (EGI) which manages one of those pillars. “Our goal is for the region to continue to be the global epicenter of mobility. We are a historical, economic powerhouse for automotive, but there’s a lot that needs to be done to keep us competitive.”
And so both money and technical help are available to companies needing assistance. In this specific case, small-to-medium businesses (i.e., less than 500 employees) that meet the listed criteria visit the EGI website, fill-out a two-page application, meet with EGI over a few weeks and voilà, the company possibly walks away with both a grant of upwards of $100,000 and accompanying services. “Our program is a full-service program that supports small to medium size businesses from start to finish,” clarifies Chelsea Gilbert, a Project Manager at the Economic Growth Institute. “People typically need more help than just funds. The EGI creates suggestions to make the company more efficient, stable, etc.”
“Within the next year, the technical assistance funding will likely be fully allocated,” highlights Breitner. “It is first-come, first-serve for eligibility, so it’s really important that if companies have interest that they connect with our team.”
Will Bullseye Power LLC get help? Probably not since they fall outside of the originally targeted counties. However, efforts are underway now to help additional companies beyond the GEM region.
Or maybe the government will eventually follow up with a Build Back Better National Challenge.