Baker, lawmakers tout $668m small biz grant program

Targets restaurants and other firms hard hit by COVID-19

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER is urging restaurants, bars, retail establishments, and certain other types of small businesses in Massachusetts to apply for a $668 million grant program to help deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The grant program, funded using state and federal money, is part of an existing program run by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. On Monday, the corporation awarded $49 million to 1,158 businesses, or an average of $42,313 per business.

At a State House press conference Wednesday, Baker estimated roughly half of the $668 million will go to companies that applied but didn’t get funding in that initial round, with checks going out as soon as next week. The remainder will be available to new businesses that file applications between December 31 and January 15. (Application information will soon be available here.)

The program is open to restaurants; bars; caterers; indoor recreation and entertainment establishments; gyms and fitness centers; personal services business such as barbers and nail salons; and retail stores. Grants will cover three months of operating expenses, but no more than $75,000.

Funding for the grants is a bit unclear. Baker said the stimulus legislation approved by Congress but not yet signed by President Trump gives the state the flexibility it needs to use existing federal funds for the program. Baker said state funds will also be used, but he didn’t know how much.

“We’re working on it, but it’s there,” he said.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The program was authorized by the Legislature and the chairs of the House and Senate Ways and Means Committee issued a joint statement saying the funds were included in the state budget to address the hardships being faced by many businesses. “The funds released today will provide some level of relief to small business – especially restaurants, who have demonstrated responsibility, resiliency, and creativity to remain viable in the face of this public health crisis,” they said.

If Trump refuses to sign the stimulus package, Baker said the program would still go forward. “That just makes it a lot more complicated to make the math work,” he said.