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Small Business Relief Fund created amid COVID-19 crisis

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Economic Development

New resources have been created to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19 receive immediate capital relief and navigate the evolving financial assistance landscape.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the creation of the Small Business Relief Fund, established to assist Boston's small businesses most directly impacted by closures, policies, or general loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This newly created fund, administered and managed by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development (OED), is designed to quickly and strategically disburse grants to local businesses through a streamlined process that does not require businesses to assume additional debt. The Fund will begin accepting applications on Monday, April 6, 2020. 

"We are committed to helping Boston's small businesses during this unprecedented time by providing strategic, accessible, and critical financial resources to help them stay afloat and pay employees," said Mayor Walsh. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. As the response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, we want to make this resource as straightforward as possible for business owners and work one-on-one to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on financial assistance available."

The Small Business Relief Fund will be administered through OED's Small Business Financing program, and is funded by a combination of funds from the City of Boston, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and private institutions. Eligible small businesses - a for-profit entity with fewer than 35 employees, and less than $1,500,000 in annual revenue, which is registered and operating in Boston - will apply through a single application and be considered for one of three grants based on the size of the business. Grants can be used to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses.

The Fund will kick-off with an initial $2 million in resources available to small businesses, which includes city operating funding and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that the City of Boston receives annually from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funding will also include an additional $50,000 contribution from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of everyone in Massachusetts and our small businesses have been hit especially hard," said Attorney General Maura Healey. "I thank Mayor Walsh for his leadership and the opportunity to contribute to this fund to assist these businesses during this difficult time. I'll continue to collaborate with my partners in government to help all those affected by this crisis - we will get through this together."

As business owners, employers, and employees navigate an evolving COVID-19-related assistance landscape, OED has created a Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document, both of which are continuously updated. Small Business conference calls will continue every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. 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. For any business interested in joining these weekly calls, please email smallbiz@boston.gov

OED has created a number of useful guides and resources for 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Small Business Survey: the third of four surveys for small businesses to pinpoint the help and services they need during this time. 

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.