BOSTON (WWLP) – Small-business owners in the region will be able to expand foot traffic thanks to a state grant. MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency, and the land bank has issued $1,520,000 in grants to 13 organizations for small-business support programs.
It gives communities the opportunity to customize their tourism needs, which in turn will help small businesses succeed financially. The funds will be used to improve storefronts, provide technical assistance, equipment upgrades, district-wide branding and marketing plans, placemaking and public events, and more.
Portions of the money have already gone to Transformative Development Initiative or TDI districts in Springfield, Pittsfield, and Holyoke. In Springfield, money will be used to improve small businesses in the Mason Square neighborhood. Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. was awarded $125,000 to provide consulting services to help increase customer traffic in the area.
The Holyoke Chamber of Commerce was awarded $106,500 to provide technical assistance and improve storefronts. “Thriving small businesses are at the core of vibrant, walkable downtowns and main streets,” said Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “This $1.5 million investment from MassDevelopment will boost small businesses in 13 Gateway Cities by helping them attract customers and grow operations.”
“We know that funding for small business growth and retention is a priority in all communities, and the organizations we are awarding TDI Local funding to today have designed outstanding projects to help meet this need,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “Our Transformative Development Initiative is driving economic growth in 13 Gateway Cities through the expertise of our fellows working on the ground and through grant programs such as this.”
The Holyoke Chamber of Commerce told 22News what their intentions are. “Just be really for them to be able to get the funding they can use to improve their storefronts and for new businesses coming into the high street to be able to improve the downtown environment so we can get more of a commercial scene going on down here,” said Jordan Heart, Executive Director of Holyoke Chamber of Commerce.
Holyoke Small businesses have until March 3 to submit their proposals for storefront improvement. A sub-committee will then decide which small business will get the money.
The following projects will benefit from MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative:
Downtown Attleboro Business Association (Attleboro) – $100,000
The organization will use this grant for “Open to the Public,” a two-pronged approach that will (1) offer existing businesses in the Attleboro TDI district direct grants for general improvements, marketing, equipment upgrades, and other business needs, and (2) support event programming aimed at activating public spaces and drawing visitors downtown.
Downtown Hyannis Community Development Corporation (Barnstable) – $125,000
This grant will support the continuation of the existing “Local Business Boost Grant Program” and the establishment of a façade improvement program, both of which aim to meet the direct needs of businesses in the Barnstable TDI district by providing funding for operational and capital needs.
Bristol County Chamber Foundation, Inc. (Fall River) – $125,000
This grant will support the continued growth of Viva Fall River as an independent organization by funding a consultant to assist with the development of a board of directors and strategic plan, legal assistance for the establishment of a 501(c)3, and ongoing administration and accounting functions. To advance retail incubation, the grant will fund 50% of the Viva Fall River retail manager’s salary, fund modest support staff, and help ramp up programming at the organization’s new incubator space at 44 Troy St. To advance small business support, the grant will also fund stipends for small business liaisons who will connect small business owners – especially BIPOC and immigrant businesses – with new and existing resources.
Holyoke Chamber of Commerce (Holyoke) – $106,500
The Holyoke Chamber of Commerce will use this grant to advance small businesses and improve walkability in the Holyoke TDI district by offering technical assistance and grant funding for storefront improvement projects.
Lawrence Partnership (Lawrence) – $125,000
This grant will support the “Essex Broadway Storefront Improvement Program,” which will provide financial assistance – including application assistance, architectural design services, and construction funding – for façade improvement projects in the Lawrence TDI district that will help businesses improve their curb appeal, attract more customers, and connect storefront characteristics into a more appealing district image.
Lowell Plan, Inc. (Lowell) – $125,000
The Lowell Plan, Inc. will use this grant to create an “Acre Business Equipment Fund” that will subsidize the cost of equipment upgrades undertaken by businesses in the Lowell TDI district.
Lynn Main Streets, Inc. (Lynn) – $125,000
Lynn Main Streets, Inc. will use this grant to create a fund providing direct support for restaurants in the Lynn TDI district. The fund will be enhanced by the services of a business consultant, provided through the TDI Technical Assistance program, who will work with restaurant owners to develop an action plan identifying strategies for growth and stability.
Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts, Inc. (New Bedford) – $125,000
This grant will support a program aimed at improving the physical and digital presence of small businesses in the New Bedford TDI district to help them cultivate a broader customer base.
Berkshire Black Economic Council, Inc. (Pittsfield) – $111,000
The Berkshire Black Economic Council, Inc. will use this funding to develop a grant program to help experienced entrepreneurs fill vacant storefronts in the Pittsfield TDI district. Businesses can use the funding for costs related to renting, move-in, marketing, visibility, and upskilling.
Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc. (Revere) – $112,500
The organization will use this grant to establish shared commercial space pilots or pop-ups to encourage collaboration between existing brick-and-mortar businesses and emerging entrepreneurs and alleviate the rental burden of any individual business.
Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. (Springfield) – $125,000
Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. will use this grant for its “Branding, Storytelling & Placemaking Activation Program for Mason Square Small Businesses & Community,” which will provide grants and consulting services to small businesses, organizations, and groups for branding, marketing, and placemaking efforts. The organization’s goal is to elevate local business visibility in the Springfield TDI district, increase customer traffic to Mason Square businesses and organizations, support business growth, and kick-start a district goal to establish Mason Square as a more walkable commercial corridor.
Heart of Taunton, Inc. (Taunton) – $100,000
The organization will use this grant to undertake a two-pronged approach aimed at drawing attention, visibility, and traction to businesses in the Taunton TDI district, including (1) providing grants to businesses to alleviate struggles in paying rent, permit fees, and building upgrades such as visibility and lighting, and (2) buying materials to increase district business visibility.
Worcester Common Ground, Inc. (Worcester) – $115,000
The organization will use this grant to provide small business owners and engaged property owners within the neighborhood financial assistance for their costs of doing business (such as rent, payroll, inventory, utilities, etc.) and flexible funding for property improvements that can make an immediate, positive visible impact. The organization will also use this grant to provide prospective new businesses with lease subsidies to support their incubation on Pleasant Street, targeting investment at one to two properties that currently have vacant retail storefronts.