Business Development Resources

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Resources and Guidance for Businesses in response to COVID-19 (Updated as of August 18, 2022)

OPEN Grant and Loan Programs:

Mass. Cultural Council’s Cultural Sector Recovery Grants for Organizations offers unrestricted grants from $5,000 to $75,000 to cultural organizations, collectives and businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are being accepted through September 28, 2022, and with decisions made in January 2023. For more information go to: https://massculturalcouncil.org/organizations/cultural-sector-recovery-grants-for-organizations/

Grants from WomensNet for women led businesses or non-profits are selected monthly or twice a year in 2022, depending on the program. For more information go to: https://ambergrantsforwomen.com/all-grants/

Franklin County Community Development Corporation offers loan financing, direct business technical assistance services, and expertise for food businesses. Go to: https://www.fccdc.org/covid-19-resources/

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) website offers a review of relief programs and resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19. For more information about SBA programs and resources go to: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options

Guidance and Reference materials for adapting to COVID-19 pandemic:

Looking for inspiration to bring vacant spaces back to life? CultureHouse has released an online manual to guide the creation of pop-up spaces.  Go to: https://culturehouse.cc/manual/

Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) offers its LCR BizGrow programs, which include free small business “office hours” and their BizGrow Launch series of workshops offering free legal and business support over Zoom.  Go to: https://linktr.ee/bizgrow?mc_cid=17360b7a29&mc_eid=31d18c1629 

ICIC’s Small Business Resource Center for COVID-19 offers advice for owners and managers, including a small business checklist and conversation guide on how to communicate effectively about COVID-19 and vaccines.  Go to: https://icic.org/small-business-resource-center-covid-19-crisis/

Join the MA Office of Travel & Tourism’s new My Local MA campaign! The campaign provides ready-to-use resources for businesses to encourage customers and visitors to shop locally. For more information, go to https://www.lovemylocalma.com/downloads/.

If part of your business or business idea involves intellectual property (IP), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offers an array of free services, such as trademark application assistance to holding Invention-Con, a three-day conference about IP protection and commercialization. Go to: https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/access-our-free-services

Patronicity’s Winter Places: A Design Guide for Winter Placemaking is a free design guide for communities and businesses to create outdoor spaces for commerce and public enjoyment, while being respective of social distancing and other mitigation measures.

List of Western Mass. business resources (including grants and loans) for businesses in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties. Go to: https://bit.ly/WMassBusinessResources.

Schedule of free Western Mass. small business webinars and recorded past webinars. Go to: https://bit.ly/WebinarsList2020

BizWorks’ Resource Guide for Businesses offers a quick review of the Commonwealth’s various workforce and business development programs available, including support to avert layoffs, workforce training, workshare (which allows the company to reduce an employee’s hours while allowing the employee to collect some unemployment benefits). Go to: https://www.mass.gov/doc/masshire-bizworks-resource-guide/download

MassHire Franklin-Hampshire Career Center information for both job seekers/employees and for businesses/employers. Go to: https://www.masshirefhcareers.org/

Small businesses can access free online classes in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Quickbooks and WordPress for their employees through a program of Greenfield Community Colleges. Go to WorkforceTrainingFund.org to see if your business is eligible and then email non-credit@gcc.mass.edu for more information.

CISA’s COVID-19 resources for farmers. Go to https://www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/tipsheets/covid-19-resources/

Created by Safe Supply, an outdoor grocery store in Somerville, the Safe Supply Field Guide is a step-by-step guide for supporting local food producers and providing a shopping alternative during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Go to: https://www.safesupplyfieldguide.org/

Guidance and resources from the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Go to: https://www.themassrest.org/coronavirus-resources.html

MA Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s recent advisories on local approval of outdoor seating, guidelines for patio and outdoor areas, and more. Go to: https://www.mass.gov/lists/abcc-advisories#2020-advisories-

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce hosts a Facebook interview series at https://www.facebook.com/FranklinCountyChamberofCommerce/ and posts business information updates at https://franklincc.org/whats-new-at-the-chamber/273-covid-19-messag.

Small Business Strong is a partnership of banks, foundations and others set up to help women and minority-owned businesses in Massachusetts.  The website includes a list of resources, ranging from guidance on a variety of business issues to loans and grants available to businesses. Go to: https://www.smallbstrong.com/support-services/

Community design inspiration is found in Design for Distancing guide created by the City of Baltimore. Go to: https://www.designfordistancing.org/.

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA office offers guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19. Go to: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/

The international Business Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) offers on how to prepare buildings and tenants for addressing pandemic conditions. Go to: https://www.boma.org/coronavirus

Resources for Freelance Artists aggregates information about various resources available to artists and art organizations. Go to: https://www.freelanceartistresource.com/category/money/

As more funding becomes available, the Tipped & Service Workers Fund will release small emergency grants. Go to: https://ofwemergencyfund.org/

The COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, was declared a major disaster by the federal government in March 2020. As a result, special tax law provisions may apply. According to the IRS, “Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return.” For details: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/disaster-assistance-and-emergency-relief-for-individuals-and-businesses. For the latest guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue about tax relief measures for businesses due to COVID-19, go to: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-from-dor

For the latest guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue about tax relief measures for businesses due to COVID-19, go to: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-from-dor

Community Action Pioneer Valley’s Look 4 Help page a wide variety information and resources for individuals and families – https://www.look4help.org/

 

CLOSED Grant and Loan Rounds:

The Mass. Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) administered the Empower Digital grant program for “small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals seeking tools and services to develop their digital capabilities in partnership with a Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) provider for up to $5,000.”  For more information, go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/what-we-offer/empowerdigital

The Mass. Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) administered the BIZ-M-POWER crowdfunding matching grant program, which “offers Massachusetts small business financial assistance with their acquisition, expansion, improvement or lease of a facility, purchase or lease of equipment, or with meeting other capital needs of a business.” Businesses could receive $2,500 to $20,000 in matching grants from the MGCC, depending on the amount crowdfunded. For details go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/bizmpower. The program closed in June 2022.

MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places program provides matching grant funds for crowdfunded community placemaking projects.  The goal of these projects is to create destinations for residents and visitors to shop or dine. Eligible applicants such as non-profits and other community groups can apply for seed grants (between $2,500 to $15,000) or implementation grants (up to $5,000 to $50,000). The program is now part of the MA Community One Stop for Growth application portal. Full applications for the FY2023 round were due no later than June 3, 2022.  For details, go to: https://www.massdevelopment.com/what-we-offer/real-estate-services/commonwealth-places.

The Mass. Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) administered the New Applicant Grant Program for businesses that have not previously received MGCC COVID-19 Relief Grant programs. Grants were for between $10,000 to $75,000 and the application period closed on April 4, 2022.

The MGCC administered the Inclusive Grant Program for businesses that focus on reaching markets predominantly made up of socially and economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented groups, underserved markets, and those owned by minorities, women, veterans, disabled individuals or those that identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Grants were between $10,000 to $75,000 and the application period closed on April 4, 2022.

MassDOT’s latest round of the Shared Streets and Spaces Program for local governments and transit authorities closed on March 1, 2022. The Program provides funding to improve plazas, sidewalks, curbs, streets, bus stops, parking areas, and other public spaces in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce.  FRCOG Transportation Planning staff are available to discuss project ideas in preparation for application. For program details, go to: https://www.mass.gov/shared-streets-and-spaces-grant-program.

The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which offered loans for eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations, closed on January 1, 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, was declared a major disaster by the federal government in March 2020. As a result, special tax law provisions may apply. According to the IRS, “Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return.” For details: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/disaster-assistance-and-emergency-relief-for-individuals-and-businesses.

The City of Greenfield received a CDBG award to fund the Regional Micro-enterprise Assistance Program for businesses based in 23 Franklin County municipalities – Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell and Whately.  Eligible businesses with five or fewer employees who were income eligible and who could demonstrate a COVID loss, could apply for a forgivable loan of up to $10,000.  The program was administered by the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (CDC).

 

The US Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program is open to eligible small businesses and nonprofits. Eligible applicants include live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, move theater operators, relevant museum operators, and more. The most recent application period opened on April 26, 2021 and stopped accepting applications on August 20, 2021. For more information, go to: https://www.svograntportal.sba.gov/s/.

The US Small Business Administration’s new Restaurant Revitalization Fund provided direct relief to eligible restaurants and food businesses that have experienced economic distress due to the pandemic. The first application round opened on May 3, 2021. Currently, the application is portal is closed and not accepting new applications. For more information about the program go to: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/restaurant-revitalization-fund.

The US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic crisis. Some borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness.  The SBA’s latest round for PPP loans closed on May 31, 2021.

A grant opportunity for businesses, nonprofits, artists and farmers in Shelburne Falls and the West County area (i.e. Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Hawley, Heath, Monroe, Rowe, and Shelburne) has closed as all the funds were exhausted by June 2021. Applicants could request grants for $2,500 to up to $15,000. Eligible entities and individuals could use grant funds to cover expenses such as employee payroll, rent, inventory, equipment, and working capital. For more information, go to https://www.fccdc.org/shelburne-falls-and-west-county-grants/.

The COVID Recovery Micro-enterprise Assistance Program was a forgivable loan program for businesses with five or fewer employees located in Buckland, Greenfield, Montague, or Shelburne. Applications are no longer accepted as the funds are exhausted. The program was administered by the Franklin County CDC.

The Town of Erving had a COVID Micro-enterprise Relief Program that offered forgivable loans and has also been exhausted.

The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) Get Ready Grants awards up to $500 to individual artists working in craft disciplines to conduct activities that will help safeguard their studios, protect their careers, and prepare for emergencies.  The fund accepted applications through April 21, 2021.  Priority was given to Black, Indigenous, People of Color and folk and traditional artists. For more information, go to: https://cerfplus.org/get-ready/get-ready-grants/

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Innovation Challenge is a business accelerator program to identify and grow Massachusetts based companies developing innovative solutions to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ideal candidates are entrepreneurs developing connective technologies with the potential to spark economic recovery and strengthen resiliency in the flow of goods, services, and information. The six-week accelerator offered participants entrepreneurs a series of workshops and access to mentors.  The final event will be juried by a panel of independent experts who will award $40,000 to the winning company and $10,000 to the runner-up in April. The deadline closed on February 19, 2021. The competition is supported by the MassTech Collaborative and managed by Lever, Inc. based in North Adams.  For details: https://innovation.masstech.org/challenge-4-connect-tech-innovations

Rural LISC’s Rural Relief Small Business Grant Program is offering grants from $5,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in rural communities that are facing financial pressure because of COVID-19. The last funding round closed on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. Priority was given to businesses in underserved communities, including entrepreneurs of color, and women and veteran owned businesses.  For details go to: https://www.lisc.org/covid-19/small-business-assistance/rural-relief-small-business-grants/

The MGCC is administering the state’s Sector-Specific Relief Grant Program for Massachusetts Businesses, which seeks to award grants to businesses in need of financial support due to COVID-19 pandemic related loss of income. Restaurants and bars, indoor recreation or entertainment establishments, gyms or fitness centers, personal services, event-support professionals, and brick-and-mortar retailers will be given preference. The application period closed on Monday, January 18, 2021. For details go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/covid-19-response/sector-specific-relief-grant-program-massachusetts-businesses

The Commonwealth opened a new state technical assistance program to support local governments in revitalizing downtowns and commercial districts.  Called Local Rapid Recovery Planning, applications were accepted through December 18, 2020. All municipalities were eligible to apply, and non-profit entities, such as Business Improvement Districts, Main Street organizations or Community Development Corporations, were eligible to lead the planning process with local government support. For more information, go to https://edit.mass.gov/forms/local-rapid-recovery-planning-application.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has launched two new programs to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide grants of up to $75,000 to eligible small businesses (businesses with 50 or fewer employees) and grants of up to $25,000 to eligible microenterprises (businesses with 5 or fewer employees) to fund certain activities.  The application round opened on October 22, 2020 and closed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 11:59 pm. For details, go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/covid-19-response/covid-19-grants-massachusetts-small-businesses.

The Community Foundation of Western Mass accepted applications for its latest grant round for eligible non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19 through September 1, 2020. Click here for more information.

Round 2 of Town of Orange’s AGO Small Business Relief Partnership Grant program for small businesses based in Orange had applications due on August 9, 2020. Eligible, Orange-based businesses were awarded grants up to $2,500. All funds have been exhausted.

U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) closed on August 8, 2020. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation posted information about the federal PPP, at https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/resources/covid-19-small-business-resources

The latest round of CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund had an application deadline of June 6, 2020. However, they continue to have a robust list of COVD-19 resources and information for farmers at https://www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/tipsheets/covid-19-resources/.

FRCOG Publications:

Pioneer Valley Businesses and Organization Survey as of April 3, 2020

Click here for the Findings Report on the Impact of COVID-19: Pioneer Valley Business and Organization Survey

Emergency Preparedness Resources for Businesses:

Whether it is a blizzard, flood, or a hazardous spill, business can’t always control what happens in the future. However, there are steps to be better prepared. And when you can respond and recover quickly, you can get back to business! Information on how businesses can be prepared for emergencies is available at  WesternMassReady.org and Ready.gov/Business, or download the Getting Back To Business brochure (PDF, 875KB).

Business Development Resources:

Looking to start a new business venture?  Or expand an existing business venture? Check out the 2018 Franklin County Business Development Resources Guide  (PDF 2.2mb) to find helpful information and links to organizations that provide technical assistance, training, financing and more!