State launches $668 million small business relief program

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker announced a $668 million program to give financial help to reeling small businesses.

The program is somewhat reliant on pending legislation that was recently passed by Congress. Wednesday, Baker urged President Trump to sign the legislation. If that doesn’t happen, Baker said the state will still begin collecting applications and distributing millions of dollars in grants to restaurants, bars, salons, barbershops and other small businesses especially hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It could help, it could be a lifeline,” said Charlotte Walsh, owner of Charles River Running in Norwood.

Earlier this week, Baker announced $49 million in grants through the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation Small Business Loan Program supporting over 1,100 small businesses.

Applicants who did not receive grants and applied for the first round of funding will not need to reapply, the Administration said.

Industries prioritized for the new round of funding include restaurants, bars, indoor recreation establishments, gyms and fitness centers, and retailers who will be able to use the money to pay for salaries, rent, utilities among other expenses.

“Staffing and rent are probably the two biggest factors we’re dealing with right now,” said Karen Masterson, owner of Johnny’s Luncheonette in Newton Centre.

“When it comes to January, February and March, the rent is going to be huge because the crowds are not going to be,” said Michael Noymer, owner of Leather World, also in Newton Centre.

Grants could be up to $75,000 but not exceed three months of operating expenses, Baker said.

An online portal is being used to collect applications and opens Thursday, December 31st and closes Friday, January 15th.

Information on the program is available here. Awards will go out in February.


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