February 26th Information &
Resource Update
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this newsletter incorrectly indicated the Round 4 application deadline for the state's Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Grant Program as March 4th. The correct deadline is Friday, March 5th.
Reopening Update: Step 2 of Phase III Begins Monday

Yesterday, the Baker Administration announced that Massachusetts would advance to Step 2 of Phase III of the state’s reopening plan effective Monday, March 1st. Further, the initial step of Phase IV is now scheduled to begin on March 22nd.

Reopening Changes Effective Monday:

  • Restaurants will no longer have a percent capacity limit and will be permitted to host musical performances; six-foot social distancing, limits of six people per table and 90 minute limits remain in place

  • Indoor performance venues such as concert halls, theaters, and other indoor performance spaces will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity with no more than 500 persons

  • Indoor recreational activities with greater potential for contact (laser tag, roller skating, trampolines, obstacle courses) will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity

  • Capacity limits across all sectors with capacity limits will be raised to 50% and exclude employees

Residents must continue to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and are encouraged to avoid contact outside of their immediate households. The Travel Advisory and other public health orders remain in effect.

Further Changes Scheduled for March 22nd:

Provided public health metrics continue to improve, effective on March 22nd, all communities in Massachusetts will move into Step 1 of Phase IV of the state’s reopening plan. This will open a range of previously closed business sectors under tight capacity restrictions that are expected to be adjusted over time if favorable trends in the public health data continue.

The following industries will be permitted to operate at a strict 12% capacity limit after submitting a plan to the Department of Public Health (DPH):

  • Indoor and outdoor stadiums

  • Arenas

  • Ballparks

Also effective on March 22nd, gathering limits for event venues and in public settings will increase to 100 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 25 people, with indoor house gatherings remaining at 10 people.

Additionally, dance floors will be permitted at weddings and other events only, and overnight summer camps will be allowed to operate this coming summer. Exhibition and convention halls may also begin to operate, following gatherings limits and event protocols. Other Phase IV sectors must continue to remain closed.

EDA Now Accepting Build to Scale Applications

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is now accepting applications for its Build to Scale program, a $38 million funding opportunity that fuels tech-based economic development in regional economies.

The FY21 Build to Scale program is comprised of two competitions: the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. The Venture Challenge seeks to support high-growth entrepreneurship, accelerate company growth in the applicant’s region, and scale proven entrepreneurship support models. The Capital Challenge increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs.  

Eligible applicants include cities, counties, states, other political subdivisions of states, and Indian tribes; or entities supported by a state or political subdivision of a state that is one of the following: a nonprofit institution of higher education, public-private partnership, research park, federal lab, venture development organization, an economic development organization, or a consortium of the aforementioned. 

The Venture Challenge grants have two funding levels: up to $750,000 to build programs, and up to $1.5 million to scale programs. The Capital Challenge offers grants up to $400,000.  

EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship administers the Build to Scale program, which is authorized under Section 27 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Act. Click here to access more information about EDA's Build to Scale program.
Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Grant Program:
Final Round Applications Due March 5th

The deadline for Round 4 applications to the state's Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Grant Program is approaching on Friday, March 5th. Round 4 is the last announced round of this program at present.

The program, originally titled Shared Streets and Spaces, provides grants for quick-build improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces, and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce. MassDOT relaunched the program during the winter in order to help municipalities address the challenges of winter and the ongoing public health crisis. The project completion and spending deadline is May 31st, 2021.

Click here to access an online application. Eligible applicants are municipalities or transit authorities. 

Applications must include at least one of the types of projects listed below:
  • Main Streets: Invest in local downtowns and villages by re-purposing streets, plazas, sidewalks, curbs, and parking areas to facilitate outdoor activities and winter programming, including but not limited to facilities for eating, shopping, play, and community events and spaces for all ages. (Up to $300,000)
  • Reimagined Streets: Prioritize safe spaces for people walking and biking by implementing low-speed streets, ‘shared streets,’ new sidewalks, new protected bike lanes, new permanent off-road trails, new bicycle parking, new crosswalks, traffic-calming measures, and ADA-compliant ramps. (Up to $300,000)
  • Better Buses: Establish new facilities for public buses, including but not limited to dedicated bus lanes, traffic-signal priority equipment, and bus shelters. (Up to $500,000)
  • Shared Mobility: Support the capital costs of equipment for new bikeshare and micromobility share programs. (Up to $200,000)
  • Investments in the Future: Convert temporary projects piloted to become permanent facilities (pilot need not have been funded by MassDOT previously). (Up to $300,000)

Small Business Grant Opportunity

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) have launched the SNF Small Business Growth & Recovery Fund. The Fund’s mission is to help U.S. small businesses, focusing on those owned by people of color, women, and veterans as well as those in lower-income communities, find their footing in an acutely challenging economic landscape. The Fund aims to help small businesses that have been severely impacted by the pandemic stabilize, and at the same time seeks to assist in building a more inclusive economy.  

The program will offer awards up to $20,000 each, which do not need to be repaid, to U.S.-based small businesses, accompanied by complementary training and mentorship for business owners. Nonprofit organizations are not eligible for this opportunity.

Click here to access application materials. Applications are now open, and will be accepted until March 19th at 11:59 PM EST.

This grant program focuses primarily on businesses within traditionally underserved communities. Some of the factors examined in making that determination may include whether the business is located in a low- or moderate-income census tract, is owned in whole or in part by people who identify as women, racial or ethnic minorities, or veterans. Qualified businesses have been operational for at least one year and generate no more than $3 million in gross revenue.

Along with capital in the form of non-repayable grants, the grant program will also provide businesses with expert support through complementary virtual skills-driven training and mentorship. Click here to access complete program information.
Upcoming Partnership Events

All Partnership events and committee meetings are being held virtually, via Zoom, at present. Committee meetings are open to all interested persons with advance registration.

  • Transportation Committee Meeting: Thursday, March 4th at 8:30 AM. The Transportation Committee will meet on Thursday, March 4th at 8:30 AM. Our featured speaker at the meeting will be Barry Lorion, District Highway Director for District 3, who will discuss regional roadway projects both upcoming and underway. Click here to register for the meeting.

  • Water Resources Committee Meeting: Tuesday, March 30th at 8:30 AM. The Water Resources Committee will host a presentation from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the MWRA Advisory Board on Tuesday, March 30th at 8:30 AM. The presentation will focus on MWRA’s activities and services in the Partnership’s service region, and will be followed by a Q&A. Click here to register for the meeting.
Our New Website is Now Live!

Our new website is now live! Check out the new 495Partnership.org, where you can learn more about our organization, access reports and data on the region, learn about upcoming events and committee meetings, and more!
Past Information & Resource Updates can still be accessed online, though no longer from the homepage; click here to view previous editions.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495 x105

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.