$1 million in emergency small business support to be distributed to 123 local small businesses
SOMERVILLE, MA – Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone today announced that $1 million in Somerville Small Business COVID-19 Relief funds will be awarded to 123 local, small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by federal Community Development Block Grant monies, the Fund will issue forgivable loans to businesses in the city that collectively employ about 600 people.
Announced in April, a total of 331 businesses applied for the loans made available up to a maximum of $10,000. The typical loan amount issued is $7,500, which allowed funding to be spread among more businesses. Minority-owned businesses make up 46% of awardees, and 56% of awardees are women-owned businesses. A full list of recipients will be posted to the City website at
http://www.somervillema.gov/bizrelief. Businesses that did not receive funding have been put on a waitlist that will be activated in the event that more funding, which is being sought, is secured.
“This fund will not be enough to address the extraordinary need right now, but our hope is that it will help our small businesses facing the greatest cashflow challenges carry forward as we work toward recovery, especially typically underserved businesses left out of other relief efforts,” said Mayor Curtatone.
Rather than a first-come, first-served system, funds were allocated via a thorough review process focused on delivering the greatest small business impacts both for owners and workers as well as for the community. Funds are intended to help local businesses remain viable and to retain or create jobs despite disruptions related to COVID-19.
Applications and program guidelines were made available online and in multiple languages on April 24th and applications were accepted until May 11th. Substantial multilingual outreach took place and included coordination with the SomerViva Office of Immigrant Affairs (SOIA) and the Communications Team, outreach through the Economic Development e-newsletter, networking through our economic development partners, systematic direct, one-to-one outreach using business license contact info, and targeted outreach to our small businesses utilizing other business assistance programs. Assistance in filing applications was also provided to business-owners with technology or language needs by bilingual SOIA and Office of Economic Development staff.
The eight-person Review Committee included Ward 2 City Councilor J.T. Scott and four community representatives appointed by Somerville business and nonprofit organizations: East Somerville Main Streets, Union Square Main Streets, Somerville Chamber of Commerce, and The Welcome Project, as well as three Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development staff.
“We know our businesses are working as hard and as creatively as they can to survive during this crisis. With this fund, our goal was to inject some needed financial support into the reopening and recovery of the small businesses that form the backbone of our local economy,” said Economic Development Director Tom Galligani.
In addition to the new fund, the City’s Economic Development team mobilized at the start of the crisis to offer intensive, multi-lingual support to local businesses. Services they have offered include multiple virtual town halls and topic-specific webinars, support to help local businesses access federal crisis funding, one-on-one business coaching, setting up http://www.somervilledelivers.com to promote restaurants that offered pickup and delivery during the shut-down, and working with the Job Creation and Retention Trust to establish the COVID-19 Assistance Fund to help nonprofits serve residents facing financial impacts from COVID-19. For more information or assistance for overall business needs during the pandemic, please visit http://www.somervillema.gov/CovidBizHelp or call 311.
The funding source for the Somerville Small Business COVID-19 Relief Fund is from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant program.