Florissant cake business told they must return $50K in CARES Act relief money

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FLORISSANT, Mo. (KTVI) – A small local wedding cake business recently awarded $50,000 in CARES Act funding from the state had that money stripped away from them.

For 35 years, Wedding Wonderland in Florissant has been creating beautiful wedding cakes. Michael Temm has been a part of all of it, owning the business for 25 years.

Temm said they have had their ups and downs over the years. In 2014, they were the winners of the show The Next Great Baker, which brought a lot of business to the shop.

The bakery would typically average about 40 to 50 wedding cakes a week, but since the pandemic hit, those numbers have drastically changed. This week, they only had orders for 13 small wedding cakes.

Like many other small business owners, Temm started applying for grants. In September, he got the notice that Wedding Wonderland had been awarded a $50,0000 grant from the state.

This was a huge sigh of relief for Temm.

“Getting this letter changed my world. It changed the way I thought,” he said. “We had hope we were going to be able to make it.”

Temm changed up his business plan. They would start making smaller cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops. In order to fulfill the grant, he had to provided receipts for what he had to buy. He bought coolers for all of the smaller products they would not serve.

But on Monday, Michael received a letter that took the wind right out of his sails.

The letter from the state said, “Grant Rescinded.”

It stated, “Your business does not fall within the Round 1 industry classifications, which focused on awards for retailers, accommodations, food service or health care.”

Temm said he doesn’t understand why his business was ineligible. He said Wedding Wonderland is classified as a restaurant, which is under the food service category.

FOX 2 asked the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) why the grant was rescinded and how often this happens.

They responded: “In reviewing supporting documentation submitted to the Department by the more than 3,000 CARES Act program applicants, the Department found 98 applicants were sent approval letters despite not being eligible for the first round of the Small Business Grant.

“In fairness to everyone who applied, we had to notify these business owners that they were not eligible for funding. No funds were distributed to any ineligible businesses, but we recognize that this error worsened an already difficult situation. We sincerely apologize for our mistake.

“We are in the process of responding to applicant feedback, and will be reviewing this business’s application.”

For now, Temm doesn’t know where he goes from here or what options he has left.

FOX 2 again asked the DED why Wedding Wonderland was ineligible for the grant under the food service category. A spokesperson said they will review Temm’s application and will be in touch with him to follow up.

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