SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT PROGRAM LAUNCHING IN UNION SQUARE

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Services offered in connection with kickoff of neighborhood planning process

SOMERVILLE –A new City program that offers technical assistance, financial services and other support to small businesses and in multiple languages will launch in Union Square as part of the community planning process for the neighborhood now underway, in partnership with master developer partner Union Square Station Associates (US2), which is funding the program.
Currently being piloted in Winter Hill and Magoun Square as part of the Somerville by Design process underway there, the “Somerville Small Business Suite” aims to support Union Square businesses immediately as long-range neighborhood planning begins.
Small business owners will be able to apply through the Economic Development division of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development for a variety of programs. Services offered include a Technical Support Program that assists businesses seeking to upgrade window displays; improve store layout; use new social media strategies; enhance visual merchandising; employ best practices in creating a positive customer experience; and/or address other management concerns. Services are offered through consulting company Retail Visioning’s On-Site Technical Assistance Program with additional support by City social media staff.

The program will also provide Somerville businesses access to a variety of lending programs. These programs include U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, commercial loans offered by institutions including ACCION East, Bay Colony Development Corporation, Century Bank, Eastern Bank, Rockland Trust, TD Bank, and Winter Hill Bank; and the City’s Innovation Fund (I-Fund).
In addition to those programs, a dedicated small business-to-City liaison will guide business owners through the programs available, connect those owners with the neighborhood-wide planning processes, and assist with any short-term or long-term issues. Assistance in Portuguese, Haitian Creole and Spanish is also available through the program thanks to City Communications staff in the SomerViva Language Liaison program.
Union Square businesses will also have the opportunity to directly participate in the visioning and larger planning of the Union Square neighborhood already underway. Community members can follow the progress of both the neighborhood planning process and participating businesses through the Somerville by Design website at somervillebydesign.com.
“I’m grateful that our partners at US2 are making this investment and supporting the local businesses and entrepreneurs who have helped make Union Square the vibrant community that it is today. As we plan for the future of our neighborhoods and our city as a whole, we must ensure that as Somerville grows and prospers, our local businesses grow and prosper as well,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Local businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy, making our neighborhoods and squares vibrant—filling them with people and providing local jobs. This suite of business assistance programs will continue our work to create a more supportive environment for local businesses that want to improve, so they can help plan for the future of Union Square.”
“It’s important that as the City plans for the future and improves Union Square, it supports the local businesses that made the neighborhood a desirable place to live, visit and work in the first place,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. “Offering these kinds of programs and having a dedicated liaison who can help guide business owners through any City programs or processes goes a long way toward supporting a friendly, local-first business environment that makes our community standout.”
“I am encouraged the City is taking this first step at expanding programs for our locally owned businesses and glad that it’s being brought to Union Square, where as we build for the future, we retain what we already love about the square,” said Ward 3 Alderman Bob McWatters. “As we capitalize on the opportunities for economic growth in Union Square, which help us solve the puzzle of affordability, we can’t forget the businesses that are already part of the fabric of our local economy and our community.”
For applications and more information, please contact Max MacCarthy at mmaccarthy@somervillema.gov or at 617-625-6600 x 2515 or visit http://www.somervillema.gov/smallbusiness.

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