Small Business Program Getting off the Ground With $1 Million in Award

The City is busy pushing out $1 million in small business grants to restaurants and small businesses in Chelsea this week, just as the federal government has approved much-needed funding for the state’s $668 million small business assistance program as well.

The City began working on the Small Business Assistance Program last summer at the behest of Councillor Todd Taylor, and a Committee was immediately formed and led by Councillor Judith Garcia to identify funds and priorities for the program. City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Planning Department carried out the application process last month, and is now busy getting the money into the hands of COVID-19 affected businesses – both restaurants and general retail businesses.

“It’s in the process now,” said Ambrosino. “We have the money and we are getting it paid out as quickly as we can. I think it went relatively smooth. We ended up giving out $1 million in local assistance.” The program saw $400,000 go to about 30 applicants for the Restaurant Relief Program, with an average grant of $14,000.

The small business program had a little over 50 applicants and a total of $600,000 to distribute, with the average grant around $11,600. Meanwhile, with the federal government wrapping up another CARES Act package, Ambrosino said that means more help is on the way for the City’s businesses. Last week, Gov.

Charlie Baker proposed $668 million statewide in small business relief. Now, Ambrosino said the federal package makes that money real. “I think what that federal approval means is that most of the money the governor proposed in his $668 million relief package now becomes real,” he said. “He was relying on passage of that bill.

That will be very helpful and that’s a lot of money. Ambrosino said they are working with the Chelsea Business Foundation on Broadway to access the money and help businesses locally with the application process. He said the applications would likely be out this week for businesses.

The federal and state money is over and above the $1 million local effort, and businesses are able to access both funds. Ambrosino said he hopes that Chelsea businesses are given priority in the state program, but he hasn’t heard that will happen.

“That would be nice, but I don’t think that’s likely to happen,” he said. “I think all businesses like those in Chelsea will get a high priority. I know everything the governor is doing is through an equity lens right now and I hope that’s the case for this program as well.”

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