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
FAQ's will be updated as we learn more about the program guidelines.
What is the definition of a microenterprise business? 5 or less full time 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, an individual or family's household income must be less than or equal to 80% of the median income for the area where they reside.
Applicants must meet one of the following criteria below:
- The owner(s) of the microenterprise are LMI persons (≤80% of the area median income (AMI), based on family size).
- The service activity of the microenterprise is primarily residential, where at least 51% of the residents are low-and-moderate (LMI) persons, and the microenterprises services meet the needs of the service area residents. The microenterprise must serve only that area.
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 the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy 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.
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
• Copies of 2018 business and personal tax returns for all owners with a 20% or greater ownership in the microenterprise
• Documentation to demonstrate that COVID-19 has caused a loss of income equal to or greater than requested assistance
• Itemized details of how the funds will be spent with supporting documentation
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.
Are home-based businesses eligible? For example: landscapers, contractors, artists, daycares, consultants, etc. 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, and utilities. Microenterprise Assistance Program funds may not be used for major equipment purchases, purchase of real property, construction activities, business expansion, or lobbying.
How do I apply? What are the next steps? Businesses should in touch with their local government officials to get relevant updates about the program. Please stay tuned for the online application coming soon.