WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An announcement by the Small Business Administration was made at Eastern States Exposition Monday afternoon.

The Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG), that provides emergency assistance for eligible venues affected by COVID-19, awarded Eastern States Exposition $9 million. The program was developed by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act.

The money can be used on payroll, rent, utilities and many other costs associated with businesses’ reopening.

Eastern States Exposition President Gene Cassidy was joined with Congressman Richard Neal and Robert “Bob” Nelson, district director of SBA’s Massachusetts District Office at the ESE Coliseum.

“For more than 100 years, the Eastern States Exposition, Home of The Big E, has welcomed millions of visitors to enjoy exhibits, entertainment, and agriculture,” said Congressman Neal, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “Due to the pandemic, The Big E was forced to close its gates for the 2020 season resulting in extensive loss. I advocated fiercely on their behalf to the Small Business Administration for swift approval of The Big E’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application. Today, just weeks after almost 1.5 million people visited the 2021 fair, we celebrate the authorization of $9 million to The Big E. Congratulations to Gene Cassidy and his team for this tremendous award.”

Eastern States Exposition President Gene Cassidy told 22News, “It presents the Eastern States a lifeline for our ability to proceed and keep generating the economic impact we do for our region. It’s those show that happen throughout the rest of the year to that bring thousand of people to the region and invest tens of millions of dollars. So it’s not just West Springfield that benefits but the rest of the region, so we can make sure the doors don’t close.”

According to a news release from Eastern States Exposition, they employ 7,506 people full-time resulting in $319 million in personal income and 3,500 temporary jobs during The Big E. The economic impact of Eastern States Exposition is more than $681 million, with $7.2 million in income tax revenue and $9.6 million in sales tax revenue prompted by Eastern States Exposition contributions from personal consumption and industry sales.