April 29th Information & Resources Update
Join the 495/MetroWest Partnership &
the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our
MetroWest Weekly Employer Town Hall Series

Area employers are invited to join the 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for weekly discussions surrounding critical issues business are facing right now. We will answer questions about the various resources that are available to companies and their workers during these difficult times.

Topics to be addressed include:
  • Financial resources available to all businesses that can help support businesses negatively affected by this pandemic
  • The programs and organizations available help weather this crisis such as Rapid Response, WorkShare, and Federal stimulus programs
  • The Department of Unemployment Assistance and staffing options
  • Updates on pending legislation aimed at addressing the impact on the economy and business community

These discussions are open to any interested party, and will be held each Wednesday afternoon, starting May 6th, at 1:00 PM via Zoom. Click here to sign up!

  • Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
  • Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
Proposed EPA Modifications to NPDES MS4 General Permits for Massachusetts Communities

The EPA is proposing targeted modifications to the 2016 Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) general permit for Massachusetts communities. The proposed modifications are designed to "provide municipalities with more tools and flexibilities for permit implementation while also ensuring that water quality is protected and the goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA) are met."

The proposed modifications were developed through a multi-year mediation between EPA and the parties who challenged the underlying 2016 permit. The proposed modifications are identical to those attached to the litigation settlement agreement announced for public comment in December 2019 and executed in April 2020 between EPA and the permit litigants, which included municipalities, environmental groups, and other affected stakeholders.

The EPA will accept written public comments on the proposed permit modifications until June 8, 2020. Click here for information on submitting written comments.

MS4 permits are NPDES permits that authorize certain discharges of municipal stormwater to surface waters. EPA issued the Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit in 2016. After EPA finalized the 2016 MS4 Permit, various parties filed petitions for review; these petitions were consolidated with a challenge to EPA’s 2017 New Hampshire Small MS4 General Permit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Once consolidated, the cases were entered into the DC Circuit’s mediation program; after more than two years of discussions, the parties negotiated a proposed settlement agreement which was announced December 27, 2019, issued for public comment, and executed by all parties on April 15, 2020. Under the terms of that settlement agreement, EPA committed to proposing certain modifications to this Small MS4 General Permit.

Informational Webinars: EPA will hold two informational webinars on the proposed permit modifications to the Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit:
Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Planning & Action Grants: New Round of Funding Available

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs has opened applications for a new round of Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Planning and Action Grant proposals.

MVP Planning Grants: MVP Planning Grants award funding to communities to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented climate resiliency plans. The program helps communities:
  • Define extreme weather and natural and climate related hazards
  • Understand how their community may be impacted by climate change
  • Identify existing and future vulnerabilities and strengths
  • Develop, prioritize and implement key actions

State-certified MVP providers offer technical assistance to communities in completing the assessment and resiliency plans. Communities that complete the MVP planning grant program become certified as an MVP community and are eligible for MVP Action Grant funding.

MVP Planning Grants are currently open on a rolling basis until August 7, 2020 at 4pm (or until all funding has been allocated). Early application is encouraged.
  • For further background information on MVP Planning Grants from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, click here
  • To access the full RFR via the COMMBUYS system, click here

MVP Action Grants: Applications are also being accepted for a new round of MVP Action Grants. Action Grants provide funding for designated MVP Communities to implement priority adaptation actions identified through the MVP planning process or similar climate change vulnerability assessment and action planning that has led to MVP designation after EEA review.

Projects are required to use the best available climate data and projections. Projects that propose nature-based solutions or strategies that rely on green infrastructure or conservation and enhancement of natural systems and that have robust community engagement plans are preferred.

The MVP Action Grant RFR is open until June 11, 2020 at 2pm. Applicants can request up to $2 million in funding (regional proposals may request up to $5 million), and a 25% match of the total project cost is required.
  • For further background information on MVP Action Grants from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, click here
  • To access the full RFR via the COMMBUYS system, click here
City of Framingham COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Grant Program

The City of Framingham has established a COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Grant to assist in the stabilization of existing small businesses within the City of Framingham that have had significant business disruption due to the impact of COVID-19. These grant funds will assist small business in the City of Framingham to cover wages, rent, loss of inventory, and other fixed costs.

Eligible Applicants Must:
  • Have a physical establishment within the City of Framingham
  • The business owner must be low- to moderate-income (see income thresholds below)
  • Have experienced a loss of revenue of 50% or more due to COVID-19 since March 10th
  • Have less than $2,000,000 in gross annual receipts
  • Have no outstanding tax liens or legal judgements

Approved uses of funds include employee payroll costs, loss of inventory, rent, other fixed costs. Other costs may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Funding for this program will be provided through the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, which are allocated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The maximum award is $10,000.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. Partnership operations are continuing throughout the duration of the current public health crisis, with our staff working remotely. You may reach me directly via email at jason@495partnership.org .

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership