Last week, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made $50.8 million in grants available to support small businesses, microenterprises, and their employees, families, and communities. The purpose of these grants are to support businesses experiencing economic hardship and a loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below are a few things we have learned since the grant announcement to help you decide if your business is eligible and should apply for this funding.
Who should apply?
Any for profit business in operation since 6/30/19 with fewer than 50 employees that can demonstrate hardship due to COVID 19 is eligible to apply.* Priority will be will be given to small businesses whose owners are women, minorities, veterans, members of other underrepresented groups, who are focused on serving the Gateway Cities of Massachusetts (of which Stoneham is not), and those most negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Preference will also be given to applicants of the greatest need that have not been able to receive aid from other federal programs related to COVID-19. That being said, it is uncertain how many applications will be submitted and what they will look like, so eligible small businesses are encouraged to apply.
*Excluding Real Estate Rentals / Sales Business, Business Owned by Persons Under Age 18, Chain Business (however franchises are allowed), Liquor Store, Weapons / Firearms Dealer, Lobbyist or Cannabis-Related Business.
What is the difference between the two grants being offered?
There are two grant opportunities being offered, one specifically for microenterprises and another that is broader in scope and supports small businesses with 50 or less employees.
- Microenterprise Grant/Small Business Grant for 5 or Fewer Employees. This grant awards up to 25K to businesses with in five or less employees that: (a) provide goods or services to multiple clients or customers; (b) whose owner qualifies under the Low-Moderate Income (LMI) Limited Clientele national objective criteria; and (c) whose annual income equal to or less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) based on family size. If you are considering applying for this grant and feel you are eligible, it is strongly recommended that you instead apply for Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 (CDBG-CV) Microenterprise Assistance Program. As a Stoneham business, you are far more likely to be awarded CDBG-CV grant funds.
- Small Business Grant for 50 or Fewer Employees: This grant is very similar in structure to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and more general than the microenterprise grant in terms of eligibility. This grant provides businesses up to $75,000, but capped at up to 3 months of operating expenses determined by 2019 Federal Tax Returns. Grant amounts will be considered for actual expenses for 2020 during the pandemic. Expenses can be considered since March 10, 2020 not exceeding 3 months of operating expenses. Funds may be used for payroll and benefit costs, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debt obligations.Funds must be spent with 45 days of receipt of the grant, but can be used to pre-pay a future expense (e.g. rent, mortgage)
How will the application process work?
- Applications are NOT first come, first served, so do not rush through the application and risk disqualifying your business. Grant applications will only be reviewed after the application period ends on November 12 and not on a rolling basis. However, if your application is submitted and is incomplete, it will not be reviewed until they have gone through the completed applications and only reviewed if funds are remaining. The grant application portal allows for you to save your information as a draft and complete it over time. It is recommended that applicants complete as much of the application as possible and wait for additional guidance on items that require clarification.
- Timeline for grant application and funding. The application period will close on Nov. 12 and the review process is anticipated to be 2-3 weeks with funds being disbursed shortly after award announcements and around the end of the year.
For more information or to apply, please visit the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) website. For assistance with the application, please contact the Chamber office at (781) 438-0001 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to participate in a webinar regarding these grants, take the poll below.