Businesses throughout Michigan have pivoted to making personal protective equipment to meet the coronavirus crisis-induced surge in demand. Photo by National Association of Manufacturers. 

May 28, 2020: Nick Manes, Crain’s Detroit Business

As Michigan’s economy slowly reopens amid the coronavirus crisis, the state has a new mechanism to connect businesses with needed personal protective equipment.

The Pure Michigan Business Connect has a new portal aimed at ensuring businesses have access to gloves, face coverings and other PPE needed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the quasi-governmental Michigan Economic Development Corp. said in a news release on Thursday.

The free PMBC COVID-19 Procurement Platform will work to connect businesses seeking access to face masks, face shields, gloves, goggles and other protection materials with businesses that have supplier capacity to meet the demand.

“We want to ensure we are opening up in a way that is safe, smart and does not undo the progress we have made in flattening the curve of COVID-19,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in the release. “Through the PMBC COVID-19 Procurement Platform we can help employers access the PPE they need to ensure their employees feel safe returning to work, while also supporting Michigan businesses that will be critical to economic recovery efforts.”

Since the pandemic began spreading in Michigan in early March, scores of businesses have transitioned to making PPE and other needed equipment, such as ventilators. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has compiled a list of more than 100 companies that are part of the so-called “Arsenal of Health,” making products needed to stave off infection.

The Pure Michigan Business Connect program dates back several years, serving as a mechanism for keeping business-to-business purchasing in-state.

“We have a proven model for connecting buyers with a vast network of suppliers across Michigan,” Natalie Chmiko, vice president of Pure Michigan Business Connect & International Trade at the MEDC, said in the release. “As we focus those efforts on the urgent need for non-medical grade PPE, we will be able to both streamline the procurement process and help Michigan businesses find new opportunities for growth while helping to keep Michigan’s workforce safe.”