(BOSTON – Thursday, May 21, 2020) – Continuing a policy of rapid, equitable, and transparent relief and support from the COVID-19 pandemic to all Bostonians, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that nearly $4 million in debt-free grants have been distributed to over 1,100 small businesses in every neighborhood across the City of Boston through the Small Business Relief Fund, including the $2 million distributed to businesses earlier this month.
The businesses receiving grants represent industries most-impacted by closures, policies, or general loss of revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic throughout every neighborhood in Boston. “I’ve said it many times: small businesses are the heartbeat of our economy, and they provide residents with the services they depend on every day,” said Mayor Walsh. “Through the Small Business Relief Fund we have been proud to support Boston’s small businesses with a swift and direct infusion of funds through a fiscally responsible and equitable system that will help businesses stay open, pay employees, and strengthen our local business districts.”
Of the nearly $4 million that has been distributed, the top five industries funded represent small businesses in the most-affected industries, including hospitality, personal care, arts and recreation, retail, and healthcare and social assistance (home childcare, family services, personal and home care aide, etc). Of the businesses receiving grants so far, 95% have 15 or fewer employees, 52% are owned by people of color, 49% are women-owned, and 46% are immigrant-owned.
Grants from the Small Business Relief Fund have been crucial to the survival of many Boston businesses, and serve as a lifeline for businesses that experienced difficulty navigating or accessing financial assistance through the Federal CARES Act. A full list of businesses that have received funding is available here.
“I want to thank Mayor Walsh and the Economic Development Office for all of their hard work and help. Natalia and the Small Business team made the entire process very easy and the steps that the city has taken to keep us informed, as well as assist those in need, has blown me away. I’ve strengthened my faith in this city because of this experience,” said Kandace Cummings of Anita Kurl Salon in the South End. “Thank you for your support in this time of hardship, this gesture has made me feel part of a community,” said Ramon Zapata, of the AlbertStyle Barbershop in Dorchester. Managed by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (OED), this fund was designed to disburse grants through a streamlined process without having to assume additional debt, which can be used to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses. Through a combination of City, Federal, and private funds, a total of $7.5 million has been made available to fully fund all remaining eligible grant requests that were submitted during the application process.
To further assist the City’s small businesses, the City of Boston has created a new platform to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies they will be required to have available in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries begin to reopen. Along with industry-specific reopening requirements, the page includes a list of self-identified, local suppliers of PPE and cleaning supplies, information on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ vendor database, and partner organizations helping to connect businesses with vendors.
As business owners, employers, and employees navigate an evolving COVID-19-related assistance landscape, the Economic Development Office has created a Federal Assistance Guide, Financial Relief Handbook and FAQ document, all of which are continuously updated. Small Business conference calls will continue every Tuesday at 3pm 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.
The City of Boston has created a number of useful guides and resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Open Businesses in Boston and Support Boston Restaurants platforms have helped businesses to publicly share that they are open and direct residents into supporting local establishments. The above resources and more industry-specific guidance are accessible on boston.gov/covid19-businesses. For all coronavirus updates from the City of Boston, please visit boston.gov/coronavirus.