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$2 million in grants distributed to more than 500 small businesses

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Economic Development

Additional federal and private funding contributions from Citizens Bank and Eastern Bank will allow the City to fully fund remaining eligible grant requests, and brings the total to $7.5 million in small business financial assistance.

Following a commitment to help Boston’s hardest hit small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the City of Boston’s Small Business Relief Fund is distributing $2 million in grants to 561 small businesses most directly impacted by closures, policies, or general loss of revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Small Business Relief Fund grants are critical to help struggling small businesses across the city address challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Mayor Walsh. “These businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the lifeblood of our communities. I’m proud we are able to assist them during this time, and am grateful to our partners who have stepped up in a big way to support Boston’s neighborhood business community.”

Through a combination of City, Federal, and private funds, a total of $7.5 million has been made available to help Boston’s small businesses struggling during this unprecedented time. The recent addition of $5 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), along with commitments from Citizens Bank and Eastern Bank will allow the City of Boston to fully fund all remaining eligible grant requests that were submitted during the application process. 

As of May 5, 2020, the Small Business Relief Fund distributed nearly $2 million grants to 561 eligible small businesses in every neighborhood in the City of Boston. The top five industries funded represent businesses in the most-affected industries, including hospitality, personal care, arts and recreation, retail, and healthcare and social assistance. Over 75% of businesses awarded have fewer than five employees, a majority of which struggled with or were not able to access the Federal assistance programs included in the CARES Act.

"Working with the Small Business team has been a pleasure from the beginning, this grant is my only source of income right now and it will impact me greatly. I have to keep my daycare functioning, even without any kids. Thank you Mayor Walsh!” said Marie Chalmers, home daycare provider of over 40 years and Roslindale resident.

“I am so thankful for the City because I will be able to use these funds to pay for rent, utilities, and finally be able to pay myself! As a salon, we have been hit really badly and Mayor Walsh’s Small Business Relief Fund has been a saving grace,” said Venard Veillard, owner of Beauty by Venard in Jamaica Plain.

Managed by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (OED), this new fund was designed to disburse grants through a streamlined process without having to assume additional debt, which can be used to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses. OED will continue to distribute grants to eligible businesses with the addition of up to $5 million in CDBG funds, contributions from Citizens Bank and Eastern Bank, as well as a $50,000 contribution from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office. These additional funds will allow the City of Boston to distribute grants to additional eligible small businesses in Boston that applied to the Fund.

“Small businesses are a vital engine of the Boston economy so it is critical that we give them an immediate leg up and bolster their long term viability,” said Jerry Sargent, President, Massachusetts, Citizens Bank. “We are pleased to join with Mayor Walsh and the Office of Economic Development’s Small Business Relief Fund to provide much needed support to help businesses stabilize amidst the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.” 

"Boston's small businesses are a critical part of our local economy and lifeline for many residents. As a community bank, we understand the many challenges they are facing right now, and are proud to join Mayor Walsh in providing small businesses with immediate and flexible assistance to fulfill requests,” said Bob Rivers, Chairman & CEO, Eastern Bank. 

As business owners, employers, and employees navigate an evolving COVID-19-related assistance landscape, the Economic Development Office has created a Federal Assistance Guide, Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document, all of which are continuously updated. Small Business conference calls will continue every Tuesday at 3pm to communicate policy updates, answer questions, feature relevant City of Boston departments, and troubleshoot the ecosystem of funding available from the state, federal, and private industry. 

The City of Boston has created a number of useful guides and resources for restaurants and food businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the Commonwealth’s Non-Essential Services and ‘Stay At Home’ Order

  • Open Businesses in Boston: a tool for essential businesses to publicly share that they’re open, share gift-card information, and which (if any) delivery/take-out services they use. This guide is available for residents to utilize, and explore what local businesses are open in their neighborhoods. 
  • Support Boston Restaurants: a web page for restaurants to publicly share that they’re open, share gift-card information, and which (if any) delivery/take-out services they use. This guide is available for residents to utilize, and explore what local businesses are open in their neighborhoods. In addition, the City recently announced that permitted restaurants will be allowed to sell grocery items via delivery, curbside pickup and takeout. 
  • Takeout and Delivery Guidebook: a guide on how to establish food takeout and delivery services now that the City of Boston has lifted licensing regulations. 

The above resources and more industry-specific guidance are accessible on boston.gov/small-business. or under the Local Resources "Economic Development Response" on boston.gov/coronavirus. For all coronavirus updates from the City of Boston, please visit boston.gov/coronavirus.

Mayor's Office