A $4,950,000 grant from the Department of Housing & Community Development to assist small businesses in 23 cities and towns across the Metropolitan Boston Region will be available late summer/early fall 2020. In addition to Ashland, the other communities that are part of the coalition include: Beverly, Burlington, Canton, Concord, Dedham, Essex, Lexington, Manchester by the Sea, Marlborough, Melrose, Milton, Natick, North Reading, Norwood, Randolph, Reading, Sharon, Southborough, Stoneham, Watertown, Winchester or Woburn.
The funding is being made through the competitive Community Development Block Grant Program being utilized to address emergency needs in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. This funding will support small businesses affected by the recent outbreak.
Specifically, the grant award for Ashland and the other 22 communities will be utilized to award individual grants of up to $10,000 for microenterprise businesses. A microenterprise is defined as a commercial enterprise that has 5 or fewer employees, 1 or more of whom owns the enterprise and must be a for-profit entity. Business type exclusions to the grant include: Real estate rentals/sales businesses, businesses owned by persons under age 18, businesses that are chains, liquor stores, weapons/firearms dealers, lobbyists or Cannabis-related businesses.
As the lead community for the regional effort, the Town of Ashland will work closely with the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (“MGCC”) to administer and oversee the grant program. An application will become available in August or early September. Individual cities and towns will be responsible for distributing application information to microenterprises in their community. Businesses should contact their local town or city officials for more information and updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the definition of a microenterprise business? 5 or less employees, including the business owner.
For microenterprises, what is the date of the “count” of number of employees? It would be at the time that the business applies for assistance.
What is LMI and what are the requirements for this grant? LMI is low-and-moderate income persons. An individual is considered to be LMI based on their annualized family income. Overall, to be classified as LMI, a family's household income must be less than or equal to 80% of the median income for the area where they reside.
Is LMI based on place of residence or business? It is based on place of residence. Please use this link for guidance on what the LMI is for that business owner:
How do I find out what the AMI is for where I live? Click the HUD calculation link HERE. Most businesses within this grant will fall under either the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA area or Eastern Worcester County, MA area.
If there are multiple owners, do all need to meet LMI requirements in order to be eligible or does just one need to be eligible? If two owners, both must be eligible.
How long does a business have to be open to qualify for this grant? Must be in business as of 1/1/19 and have a physical establishment that serves the community that is distributing the grant. Some home based businesses will be eligible.
What cities and towns are distributing this grant? The following 23 municipalities are participating in this grant program. Businesses that have a physical establishment in the following can apply: Ashland, Beverly, Burlington, Canton, Concord, Dedham, Essex, Lexington, Manchester by the Sea, Marlborough, Melrose, Milton, Natick, North Reading, Norwood, Randolph, Reading, Sharon, Southborough, Stoneham, Watertown, Winchester or Woburn.
How much money can one business apply for? Up to $10,000
What documents will I need to submit with the application? Applicants will be required to submit documentation to support all provided information. The following list identifies the required documents that will be requested at the time in which applications are submitted:
• W-9 Form Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification
• 2019 or 2020 Certificate of Good Standing
- A copy of complete 2019 Federal Personal Tax Returns for each business owner with a 20% or greater ownership interest in the business for LMI requirement verification. If on extension, 2018 will be accepted.
- A copy of your complete 2019 Federal Business Tax Return. If on extension, 2018 will be accepted.
- A copy of your License to Operate/Business License/Professional Certification, if applicable
- A copy of your Lease or Mortgage Bill
- If you received any state, local or federal aid, please provide documentation
• Documentation to demonstrate that COVID-19 has caused a loss of income equal to or greater than requested assistance
How is “currently in operation” defined? If a business was in operation but closed because of COVID, it would make sense that the business should be eligible for this funding. “Currently in operation” means that the business has not permanently closed, gone out of business, filed for bankruptcy.
Can businesses buy equipment with grant funding? The purchase of equipment, fixtures, furnishings, property with CDBG funds is generally ineligible. Funding may be used for rent, mortgage assistance, utilities or payroll. Funds may also be used to purchase PPE.
Are home-based businesses eligible? For example: landscapers, contractors, artists, daycares, consultants, etc. YES, Legitimately licensed commercial businesses may be considered eligible for assistance.
Can the funds be used to assist a business owner with making payments on a loan that they received prior to the start of the pandemic, even if it’s for an equipment purchase? Funds may be used for working capital to cover business costs, such as rent, staffing, utilities and technical assistance, general support and stabilization of the business. Funds may also be used for purchasing personal protection equipment (PPE). Microenterprise Assistance Program funds may not be used for major equipment purchases, purchase of real property, construction activities, business expansion, or lobbying.
What documentation is needed to demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a loss of income equal to or greater than the requested assistance? Examples of documentation would be to show loss of income through bank statements, budgeting or unemployment payments.
How do I apply? CLICK HERE to access the online application.
If I experience technical issues with the application portal, is there someone with MGCC that can address their concern? On the application, if someone gets stuck it will direct them to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a small business and I do not have separate business tax returns, only my personal taxes so I have uploaded my 1040 for 2019, is that sufficient? Yes, also include schedule C
Since my business has not been open for much of this year due to COVID-19, do I qualify if we use annualized year-to-date 2020 income? Is this an option? At this point we are using 2019 tax returns to qualify for LMI.
What could we send in for documentation to demonstrate COVID 19 has caused a loss of income? Please provide a brief description (100 word limit) of what adverse economic effects COVID-19 had on your business.
Do applicants submit gross or net family income? Gross Family Income
If a business owner has two separate businesses does he/she apply for the two businesses jointly or apply separately for each business? The business owner should apply separately for each business.
How do I apply for a DUNS number?
- To Create or Update your DUNS Number, please visit our simplified self-service portal to provide you the fastest service. There you will find step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process.
- Step 1: Click Simplified Self-Service Portal link: www.dnb.com/govtduns and choose "Federal Government Contractors or Grantees DUNS Number Support"
- Step 2: Click on the “Create a New DUNS Number” or “Update Your Exiting DUNS” button (see screenshot below) and follow the step-by-step instructions.
- For problems contact: Contact https://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/ or by phone at 866-705-5711
Where do I obtain a certificate of good standing? https://www.mass.gov/how-to/request-a-certificate-of-good-standing-tax-compliance-or-a-corporate-tax-lien-waiver
For the question "How will this grant be used to assist your business?" - Are we supposed to include monthly figures for these or what we expect to need assistance with for the foreseeable future until we anticipate being at pre-COVID capacity? Please enter in the anticipated total amount for your working capital needs. For example, if you need $10,000 for payroll. No further breakdown is needed.
For the questions "Has your business received additional COVID-19 financial aid from any of the following sources?" - Should we include loan amounts from the SBA EIDL? What about MA State unemployment assistance? And the Federal Stimulus money each US Citizen received? as it was personal assistance and not business assistance? PUA and FPUA? SBA EIDL, and any business-related financial assistance, would need to be included. Any personal financial assistance does not need to be included.
As for "Requesting a Certificate in Good Standing" - I file my business taxes for my business under my SSN. Do I request that certificate on the MassTaxConnect site under individual or business? I don't have a FEIN. Please upload your DBA certificate in place of the Certificate of Good Standing file upload.