February 24th Information &
Resource Update
State Launches New Small Business Grant Program

The Commonwealth has launched two new grant programs to support small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs are being administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation. Applications for these programs are now open, and will close on April 4th, 2022.

Both programs will award grants ranging from $10,000 to $75,000.

Eligible uses for grant funding, for each program, include:
  • Employee payroll and benefits costs
  • Interest on other debt obligations incurred after March 3rd, 2021
  • Costs incurred to pivot a company due to COVID-19 pandemic
  • Business mortgage or rent and utilities

Funding is available under two programs:

  • The New Applicant Grant Program is available to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 that have not previously received financial relief from MGCC’s COVID-19 Relief Grant Programs.

  • The Inclusive Grant Program is available to businesses that focus on reaching markets predominantly made up of socially and economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented groups, underserved markets, and those owned by minorities, women, veterans, disabled individuals, or those that identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

DOER to Hold Public Hearings on New Stretch Code Proposal;
Written Comments Accepted Until March 9th

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will hold five virtual public hearings to receive comment on its Straw Proposal for Stretch Code update and New Specialized Stretch Code released on February 8th. The following information can be reviewed in advance of the hearings at DOER's new Stretch Code Development webpage (click on the respective links to access each document directly):

Interpretation services will be provided at all hearings in Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Hearing Dates and Times:

DOER will provide a brief presentation to respond to clarifying questions received in advance of the public hearings, however the majority of the time is reserved to hear public comments. Public comments will be limited to 3 minutes per person to ensure all participants have a chance to provide comment.

To submit questions or to sign up to give public comment at a hearing please send an email to [email protected] with the subject line "Comment for Public Hearing" and include your name, organizational affiliation and municipality where you work or reside, as applicable. There will be four regional hearings and one additional hearing dedicated to Environmental Justice communities statewide. At each regional hearing, comments and questions from participants representing communities in the designated region will be prioritized. Visit the Green Communities webpage to find out which region your community is in.

DOER highly encourages written comments on the Straw Proposal for Stretch Code update and New Specialized Stretch Code to be submitted electronically to [email protected] with the subject line “Stretch Code Straw Proposal Comments.” Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM EST on March 9th, 2022
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Accepting Applications
for InnovateMass Program

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is currently accepting applications for its InnovateMass program. The InnovateMass program provides up to $250,000 in grant funding and technical support to applicant teams deploying new clean energy technologies or innovative combinations of existing technologies with a strong potential for commercialization. Successful applicants will propose projects that address important energy challenges, help to grow the state’s clean energy economy, and contribute to Massachusetts’ continued clean energy leadership.

InnovateMass is a rolling program that welcomes applications from across the clean energy technology landscape, including clean energy generation, energy efficiency, energy storage, data for clean energy applications, and other types of technologies. Applicant teams must include at least one Clean Energy Company (as defined in the FAQ listing) with proprietary technology to be demonstrated, who will serve as the “Lead Applicant”. The Lead Applicant does not have to be a Massachusetts-based company, however, if the Lead Applicant is not a Massachusetts-based company, then at least one project site must be in Massachusetts and the proposed technology must fall within one of the four focus areas:
  • High-performance Buildings
  • Clean transportation
  • Offshore wind
  • Net Zero Grid

Although the last quarterly deadline was February 1st, the program is still currently open for applications. Should funding be exhausted, an announcement will be posted here.
MWRTA Offering Signing Bonuses for Drivers

The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority (MWRTA) is now offering a $1,000 sign-on bonus for all new Fixed Route and Demand Response drivers. These positions offer competitive benefits, paid training, and flexible schedules. Interested candidates can access the "Careers" section of the MWRTA's website to view complete posting information and details. 
Town of Shrewsbury Launches Small Business Grant Program

The Town of Shrewsbury’s Planning and Economic Development Department has announced the launch of a local Small Business Grant Program. This program will provide immediate relief to Shrewsbury businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Individual grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded to eligible small businesses; a total of $50,000 is available to support the program.

Any for-profit business in Shrewsbury seeking grant assistance through the program must meet the following eligibility criteria:
  • Be adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Have 25 or fewer full time employees (part-time staff equates to ½ FTE) on payroll
  • Began operating in Shrewsbury no later than June 10th, 2020
  • Be in good standing with the Town of Shrewsbury and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (i.e. no current record of tax delinquency).
  • Enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Town of Shrewsbury to receive grant funds, if awarded

Applications are due by April 1st, 2022. Click here to determine eligibility or submit an application.
Upcoming 495/MetroWest Partnership Events

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

Upcoming Events:

  • Massachusetts Clean Water Trust: On Wednesday, March 16th, 2022 at 8:30 AM the Water Resources Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership will host a presentation on the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust. The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust is a state agency that provides low-interest loans to municipalities and other eligible entities for the purpose of improving water quality throughout the Commonwealth. Loan funding is provided through the Massachusetts State Revolving Funds. A representative from the Trust will provide an overview of resources available, as well as information regarding new sources of funding coming to Massachusetts. Click here to register.

To view all upcoming events or view recordings of past virtual events, visit the "Events & Committee Meetings" section of our website 495Partnership.org.
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

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.