Baker-Polito Administration Announces $30 Million in Additional Support for Massachusetts Small Businesses

The Baker-Polito Administration announced $30 million in state funding across four grant programs administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) to help small businesses recover, grow, and thrive.   Among these investments, the Administration announced the award of $4 million to 45 non-profit technical assistance providers to continue working with small businesses and entrepreneurs from traditionally underserved communities to grow and expand their businesses.  In addition, the Administration announced $14.7 million in awards to 15 organizations under MGCC’s Community Development Financial Institution and Community Development Corporation’s (CDFI and CDC) Match Grant Program, which funds both lending and mini-grant programs for small businesses.

Complementing these investments, the Administration announced the launch of two new programs with $11.3 million available to support small businesses as they recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biz-M-Power program and Empower Digital’s Development of Digital Capabilities grant program.

Today’s announcement was made at White Lion Brewing Company, a black-owned business that has benefited from support from Common Capital, Inc, a regional Community Development Financial Institution receiving two grants today, and that has also participated in the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Program. “To address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Commonwealth’s small businesses and main streets, our Administration put forward the largest relief program in the nation as part of our comprehensive plan for economic recovery,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “With this new round of funding for technical assistance, access to capital, and digital tools, we are strengthening our support for small businesses and taking another major step toward a return to normal.”
“The combination of technical assistance and access to capital is critical to supporting businesses along their path to growth and is also a key part of our strategy for economic recovery,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.  “We are grateful to MGCC for their work to provide vital assistance to small businesses throughout the pandemic.” “These new tools and resources, combined with our Small Business Technical Assistance program, continues our support for small businesses that serve traditionally disadvantaged communities and also suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, and provide them with a path to short-term recovery and long-term success,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “By increasing access to essential technical assistance, business education, skills training, and capital, we can help make certain the Commonwealth’s diverse small businesses are a part of the return to normal for our downtowns, main streets and our entire economy.”

“MGCC is moving into the next phase of supporting the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and I am so excited for MGCC to release these two innovative programs. Biz-M-Power and Empower Digital share an objective of increasing access for entrepreneurs to the tools their businesses need to grow and reach their goals,” said MGCC President and CEO Larry Andrews. “I want to thank my team at Mass Growth Capital, as well as our technical assistance providers, who are our network of partner organizations that help raise awareness of these important efforts. We are grateful to the continued support of the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature that enables us to do our important work.”

This round of Small Business Technical Assistance Grant program awards represents a $4 million commitment to qualifying non-profits that help businesses – many of which are women-, minority-, or veteran-owned enterprises – build operational capacity and strengthen ongoing business development activities, such as one-on-one guidance around applying for loans, building a business plan, and budgeting.  Historically, MGCC’s Small Business Technical Assistance Program has focused on businesses serving low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, underserved communities, and Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth. This low-cost, high-impact program was established to increase the flow of capital into the Commonwealth’s small businesses to assist with recovery, sustainability, resiliency, and growth.  Through the CDFI and CDC Match Grant Program, MGCC will continue to support lending and mini-grant programs that lower the barriers that small businesses face in accessing essential start-up capital. These $14.7 million in matching funds are being allocated to 15 non-profits that will administer these loan and mini-grant programs to reach small businesses in their communities.

Through a partnership with the online crowdfunding platform Patronicity, $7.5 million in funding will be available to Biz-M-Power to assist low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs with their acquisition, expansion, improvement or lease of a facility, purchase or lease of equipment, or with meeting other capital needs of their business through matching grants. With the goal of obtaining capital through the earned support of local residents, neighborhoods, community members, and other stakeholders, applicants must be sponsored by a SBTA provider before being accepted into the program. Upon application approval, the business will utilize the crowdfunding platform to leverage community support and raise funding to match the amount requested in their grant application.
The $3.8 million provided to Empower Digital’s Grant Program for the Development of Digital Capabilities program provides funding for the needs of small businesses seeking tools and services to develop their digital capabilities. Funds may be used to seek professional services such as website developers, copywriters, social media strategists, and graphic designers and strategic hardware/software purchases. Applicants must be sponsored by a SBTA Provider who will help them maximize the impact of the grant through their understanding of the small business landscape, familiarity with the digital needs of small businesses, and their extensive network of collaborators.

“As we crafted last year’s budget during a global pandemic, we sought to center Massachusetts’ recovery on support for small businesses,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “I’m proud to say that, as a Commonwealth, we’re doing just that. The Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation is an ideal vehicle to distribute new investments in small businesses as well as to aid organizations which support new entrepreneurs. By ensuring that traditionally underserved communities are included, we’re taking one more step towards an inclusive and equitable recovery.”

“The Massachusetts House is focused on restoring the economic loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and setting the Commonwealth on a path toward recovery,” saidSpeaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano. “The grants being awarded today, along with other protective and relief measures we have provided, will help our small businesses grow as they contribute to our local economies. The House was proud to support these programs through last year’s budget and remains committed to doing so as this legislative session continues.”

“Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito have been great partners in assisting me in leveraging monetary and technical assets to help not only stabilize our businesses, but just as important, help them to thrive as we move to defeat this COVID-19,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.

“The state’s support for CDFIs and CDCs that lend money to underserved small businesses is an investment in the entrepreneurs and job creators that drive our economy,” said Raymond Lanza-Weil, President of Common Capital. “We are grateful for the State’s funding of our small business loan and technical assistance programs.” 

“White Lion Brewing Company continues to be a beneficiary of a strong business development and sustainability eco-system; it is encouraging to witness cooperating quasi-public, public, non-profit and private institutions working collectively for the greater good to see small businesses thrive in the Commonwealth,” said Raymond Berry, Jr., Founder of White Lion Brewing Company. “We were very fortunate to be one of 15,000 small businesses that Mass. Growth Capital provided financial relief to during a period where many businesses would have shuttered otherwise.  Our brewery is standing today due to those resources in turn affording us an opportunity to create and retain jobs.”

A total of $11.3 million in funds have been appropriated for the two new programs in the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Operating Budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Baker.  Biz-M-Power will make a total of $7.5 million available to program participants through matching grants of up to $20,000. A match of up to $5,000 is being offered through the Empower Digital’s Digital Capabilities program, with a total of $3.8 million available. The Small Business Technical Assistance Program and the CDFI and CDC Match Grant Program were also funded through the FY21 Operating Budget.
As part of the Administration’s Partnerships for Recovery initiative to stabilize and grow the Massachusetts economy, these programs follow the success of the largest state-sponsored business relief program in the nation that distributed $705 million to 15,428 businesses in relief grants and loan forgiveness. MGCC loan recipients were given the opportunity to apply for forgiveness for their pandemic loans by demonstrating a significant adverse financial effect from COVID-19. Over the duration of the program, 43 percent of MGCC grants were awarded to minority-owned businesses, and 46 percent of grants went to women-owned businesses. Recovery efforts have also included MGCC Small Business Technical Assistance grants and matching grants for Community Development Financial Institutions and Community Development Corporations; the $1.6 million Travel and Tourism Recovery Grant Pilot Program to promote recovery in the tourism industry; a “Let’s Go Out” restaurant promotion campaign; and a $9.5 million effort underway to help 125 communities pursue locally-driven, actionable strategies to support downtown and commercial districts through the Local Rapid Recovery Planning program.