New COVID-19 relief funds available to small businesses
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the launch of three new funds totaling $6.3 million that will support small businesses within the City of Boston that have been affected by COVID-19, focusing on commercial rent relief, supporting certified women, minority, and veteran owned small businesses, and restaurant payroll and rental relief. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has allocated more than $15 million toward direct grants to small businesses.
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been listening closely to the needs of our small business community." said Mayor Walsh. "These conversations are crucial to ensuring a safe and equitable recovery for our City. The new funds we are announcing today will address those needs to better support the small businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic."
The application period for these three new funds opens on Monday, November 16, 2020 and will remain open for a period of one week, closing at 9:00 am on Monday, November 23, 2020. Small businesses may not apply for more than one of the three new relief funds. Previous recipients of the Small Business Relief Fund and Reopen Boston Fund, including restaurant fall and winter relief, may apply to any one of these funds:
Provides up to $15,000 in commercial rent relief for the period between April 1 - December 31, 2020. Priority is given to small businesses in industry sectors in Phase 3, Step 2 and Phase 4 of the state's Reopening Massachusetts plan, and those industries and neighborhood commercial areas hardest hit by COVID-19. Both a commercial landlord and small business tenant must participate in order to apply.
Provides up to $15,000 in direct grants for small businesses currently certified with the City of Boston as women, minority, or veteran owned small businesses (MBE, WBE, MWBE, VOSBE, SLBE). The City's Certified Businesses Directory can be found here.
In partnership with the One Fair Wage program, High Road Kitchens, and Councilor Lydia Edwards' Office, this fund will provide $15,000 in direct grants to restaurants for COVID-19 relief, in order to commit to provide a $20 minimum wage for all restaurant workers by 2026. The Fund will directly provide wage reimbursements to restaurants to retain or rehire their employees or other food service employees who have lost employment or been underemployed due to COVID-19. Use of funds may include both rent and payroll. Priority will be given to independently owned small and local restaurants, as well as restaurants owned by immigrants, women and people of color.
"It's important that we don't forget about restaurant workers when we talk about the struggles of the industry. Without restaurant workers there would be no restaurant industry. I'm proud to have partnered with the administration, One Fair Wage, and High Road Kitchens on the development of this program that will provide relief to restaurants that commit to good labor practices," said City Councilor Lydia Edwards.
The Small Business Unit will conduct three, live informational webinars on Monday, November 16 to answer questions about eligibility and criteria for each fund. The webinar will be recorded and posted online at facebook.com/econdevBoston/videos. For anyone interested in attending the live webinar, please register online.
WHEN: Monday, November 16, 2020, 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m.
WHERE: Online webinar via Zoom
These new small business relief funds are supported the federal CARES Act Relief Funding, along with philanthropic funding. In accordance with the regulations, the project must provide resources or assistance to mitigate effects on health and/or provide economic support.
This announcement is part of the Walsh Administration's ongoing work to support small businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, Mayor Walsh launched the Reopen Boston Fund, offering grants to Boston's small businesses of up to $2,000 to assist with reopening costs, including for PPE. On October 2, Mayor Walsh expanded this opportunity to ensure restaurants in Boston are able to purchase necessary equipment for outdoor dining this fall and winter.
Today, Mayor Walsh will further expand the Reopen Boston Fund to offer an additional $1,000 in grants to other small businesses. To be eligible, businesses must have already applied for the Reopen Boston Fund and must include a description and updated budget of how the business plans on using the funds to further their reopening during the Winter. Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis and are not guaranteed funding. Businesses must have all proper documentation and permits if operating in outdoor spaces. Interested businesses can reapply on boston.gov/reopen-fund and click on Winter Fund. The Reopen Boston Fund, which remains open, has issued more than $2.65 million in grants to 1,471 businesses. Applications are accepted at boston.gov/reopen-fund.
Last week, Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston, as a part of a thorough Request for Proposals (RFP) review process, selected a partnership between Colette Phillips Communications, the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Proverb to create a Visit Boston campaign that will promote a safe and equitable economic recovery. Prior to the pandemic, the categories of Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation; Accommodation and Food Services made up 10.4 percent of the City's jobs. As the City of Boston plans to recover stronger and more equitably from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arts, Culture, and Tourism industry is a critical component to the future success. The goal of Visit Boston is to assemble a local tourism campaign to draw local and regional tourists to take advantage of all that Boston has to offer, as the City safely responds to the impact of COVID-19 and supports its hardest hit industries, including small businesses.
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. The businesses that received grants represent industries most impacted by closures, policies, or general loss of revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To further assist the City's small businesses, the City of Boston has created a platform to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies required in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries begin to reopen.
To date, a total of more than $9.6 million in debt-free grants have been issued to 3,391 small businesses across Boston. The Office of Economic Development's Small Business Unit continues to engage with Boston's business owners through weekly calls, office hours, and ongoing surveys in order to best understand their needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Small Business owners are encouraged to complete Survey #10 to share their thoughts and experiences to better shape our programs and policies to serve the small business community. For additional questions, the Small Business Unit can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.