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Mayor Walsh leads coalition of Massachusetts municipal leaders in calling for Small Business Relief

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, together with more than 50 Massachusetts municipal leaders, is calling on State House leadership to provide immediate relief for small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic

 Mayor Martin J. Walsh, together with more than 50 Massachusetts municipal leaders, is calling on State House leadership to provide immediate relief for small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition of 53 officials representing cities and towns throughout Massachusetts signed a letter urging the Legislature to help small businesses bridge the gap toward an equitable recovery. The call comes after several communities, including the City of Boston, temporarily returned to earlier stages of the Commonwealth's reopening plan this week, amid rising COVID cases and worsening hospital capacity.

"Boston along with other cities and towns across the state continue to find new and creative ways to support our small businesses, which have faced unprecedented challenges this year, but we need our state and federal partners to leverage all the tools at their disposal to further our local efforts," said Mayor Walsh. "As municipal leaders, we're united in our message to the state: please pass the economic development bond bill now and provide relief to small business, restaurants, and their employees at this critically urgent time."

The Massachusetts House and Senate currently have several economic relief options under consideration: an economic development bond bill which includes funding for small business grants and loans, and a supplemental budget filed by Gov. Baker which requests an additional $49 million in small business support.

Municipal leaders are calling on the Legislature to pass these measures, and to also consider other creative funding mechanisms that would support small businesses, employees and restaurants. Of the 16,000 restaurants in Massachusetts, 3,400 never re-opened after mandatory closures in the spring, and more of them close every day as the pandemic wears on.

Small business relief funding and programs provided by the state, unlike those that might come in a federal stimulus package, could be deployed immediately.

"Small businesses and their employees are facing extreme financial distress, especially restaurants, which are facing a mass extinction, and there is every reason to believe this will get worse over the winter," said Metropolitan Area Planning Council Executive Director Marc Draisen. "Additional resources from both the federal and state government are urgently needed."

"Immediate passage of the economic development bond bill is critical for communities across Massachusetts," said Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer. "Economic relief for small businesses, restaurants and their hard-working employees is an essential element for sustaining and recovering our economy."

"Our restaurants and small businesses are a big part of the vibrancy of our city, providing much-needed jobs and revenues to our local economy" said Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. "These small business owners are not anonymous chains, but rather hardworking neighbors and friends who have been doing all they can to stay afloat in the midst of a public health crisis. They need our help now because every day that goes by without relief will mean more business closures. We know that vaccine distributions will be happening soon, we just need to help folks get through to Spring."

"Cities and towns are on the front lines protecting the public from the deadly coronavirus threat and providing a lifeline to the local businesses that have been hammered by the COVID recession," said Massachusetts Municipal Association Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. "Communities need assistance from our partners in state government, and we are urgently asking for immediate passage of the tools and resources in the economic development and budget bills, so that local leaders can protect our citizens, shore up our economy, and ensure a swift, equitable recovery for everyone." 

Read the full letter and list of signatories online.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has been steadfast in its commitment to supporting the small business community. The Reopen Boston Fund, still accepting applications, has issued $3.1 million to more than 1,700 businesses to help with the expenses of safely opening and operating businesses, and is still accepting applications. In total, nearly $6.7 million in debt-free grants have been distributed to over 1,850 small businesses in every neighborhood across the City of Boston through the Office of Economic Development's Small Business Relief Fund. Last month, the City launched three new funds totaling $6.3 million that will support small businesses in Boston that have been affected by COVID-19, focusing on commercial rent relief, supporting certified women, minority, and veteran owned small businesses, and restaurant relief. And to further assist the City's small businesses, the City of Boston has created a list of suppliers to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies required to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries reopen. 

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