AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – An Amherst foundation quickly sprang into action to help businesses struggling during the pandemic, and the outpouring of support has been amazing.
The Covid-19 pandemic is having a major impact on small businesses nationwide. Non-essential businesses remain closed in Massachusetts until at least May 4. The Amherst Business Improvement District and the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce have joined together to support Amherst’s small businesses during this difficult time by creating the Relief and Resiliency Microgrant Program.
“We have been working with individual businesses, we have heard the most heartbreaking stories of loss and closure, nothing that isn’t happening across the county and world right now,” said Gabrielle Gould, executive director of Amherst Downtown Foundation.
The foundation has already raised more than $150,000, with a goal of $500,000. According to Gould, downtown businesses alone reported a loss of more than $4 million within the first three weeks of the pandemic and were forced to lay off more than 670 employees.
“We’re excited to see this grow and we will be launching the first round of grants this week, opening up the grant application by May 1,” said Claudia Pazmany, executive director of Amherst Chamber of Commerce. “We just want to get money back into our small businesses and get them back online.”
The Downtown Amherst Foundation was originally a BID created to build and create art, culture, and programming for the Downtown. Their first project was going to be a capital campaign to raise funds to build and donate to the town a performing arts venue on the Common but the focus quickly changed to to help small businesses struggling.
“I just don’t see how we can’t. This is important and working with local news and networks, getting the word out, that’s what it takes for everyone to give and share and give what ever you can.
The foundation will continue raising funds for as long as they feel the need within the community.