By Jerry Norcia, DTE President and CEO
The coronavirus has been extremely challenging for Michigan — and especially for Detroit, taking a toll on our friends, neighbors and loves ones, as well as on the many small businesses that serve our community. Just as we have done before with other challenges, this community is showing its strength and grit in the face of this crisis.
There are many people and organizations who have risen to meet the challenges we’ve faced, such as first responders, health care workers, charities and volunteers, and neighbors lending a hand.
At DTE, we decided at the start of the pandemic that we didn’t want our residential customers to worry about going without light and warmth during this difficult time.
We also don’t want to see our local businesses struggle to make ends meet. Whether it’s a corner store remaining open to provide essentials, or a car repair shop making sure front-line workers have working vehicles to get them where they’re needed, many small businesses are playing a crucial role. Which is why it’s hard to see so many businesses struggling right now. Many have seen huge drops in sales and face an uncertain future.
Rest assured that DTE is working with business customers to help them through the crisis. We’ve been asking small businesses experiencing a hardship due to the outbreak to get in touch with us, and we are happy to help find solutions so we can continue to power Detroit’s economy together.
We also want to make sure businesses get access to the financial support available to them. One such form of help is the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers forgivable loans to help small businesses cover payroll and other major costs during the crisis. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees should visit the program’s website by searching Michigan Paycheck Protection and consider applying for this help. To make the process easier, the DTE Foundation arranged for the Accounting Aid Society of Detroit to provide free assistance in filling out loan applications.
The DTE Foundation will be distributing personal protection equipment (PPE) to 6,000 small businesses next week in cooperation with the public and private coalition recently created by Mayor Duggan, Detroit Means Business. This PPE starter kit will help Detroit’s small businesses open safely. The Detroit Means Business website also features a comprehensive library of resources for small businesses, including wholesale suppliers for PPE.
In addition, we have set up a web page of resources available for businesses. It includes links to many agencies and organizations that can help during this challenging time.
I also urge small businesses take advantage of our many no-cost ideas they can implement now to immediately reduce energy costs. These tips are available on our COVID-19 web page, where you can also learn all the things DTE is doing to help customers and communities during the crisis.
Please know that we are committed to continuing to provide the energy you need during the crisis and beyond. Please stay safe and healthy.
President & CEO
(Note: businesses should contact DTE’s Business Contact Center for help at 855.383.4249, or visit DTE online at dteenergy.com/covid19)