Communities land $900K for small business grants in pandemic 

  • Easthampton Municipal Building GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/27/2020 3:30:42 PM

EASTHAMPTON – Thanks to the partnership of seven different communities and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, local microbusinesses can apply for substantial grants to help them through the pandemic.

“It’s exactly the money that small municipalities need now,” Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle said. “The timing couldn’t be better.”

A total of $900,000 has been awarded by the state in Community Development Block Grant money that will be available to microbusinesses in Easthampton, Southampton, Westhampton, Granby, Hadley, South Hadley and Hatfield. Easthampton was the lead community in the grant application, and the money will be distributed by the PVPC.

“It’s quite a large amount of money,” said Ted Harvey a senior planner at the PVPC.

Harvey said the goal is for businesses to apply for the grants in early to mid-September.

The grants can be as much as $10,000 and are available to businesses with five employees or less, one of whom must be the business owner. The money is also available to self-employed people and businesses with two owners, and the state is awaiting guidance from the federal government on businesses with more than two owners.

“They’re kind of the lifeblood of our towns,” said Harvey, of the microbusinesses.

LaChapelle said a lot of businesses could benefit from the grants, including book stores, mom and pop restaurants, and travel companies.

Jamie Webb, the assistant planner in Easthampton, helped to apply for the grant money.

“The majority of Easthampton businesses are very small,” Webb said.

Although there is no minimum amount that each of the seven communities must receive for their businesses, Harvey said that no community can receive more than $400,000.

Harvey said the money comes from $20 million the state received from the federal CARES Act. About half of that money was set aside for the competitive grant program for microbusinesses. Those interested in applying for a grant can fill out an interest form on the Easthampton Planning Department’s website.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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