June 24th Information & Resources Update
MassDevelopment Announces "Commonwealth Places" Funding

MassDevelopment has announced $225,000 in funding for a new round of its "Commonwealth Places" grant program. Commonwealth Places is a competitive opportunity to advance locally-driven placemaking in downtown and neighborhood commercial districts in eligible communities throughout Massachusetts. Placemaking is a collaborative process through which people in communities work together to improve public spaces and maximize their shared value. The process facilitates creative patterns of use, and leverages the local physical, cultural, and social assets that define a place and support its ongoing evolution.

This "COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places" funding round is being made available specifically to help community partners prepare public space and commercial districts to best serve their population during communities’ economic recovery efforts. Eligible projects will comply with the Commonwealth’s Reopening Massachusetts plan, and may include outdoor seating spaces, sidewalk retail venues, partitions to support social distancing, and more.  

Non-profits and community groups are eligible to apply to MassDevelopment for grant awards of up to $25,000. Up to $10,000 per project may be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 31, 2020. MassDevelopment anticipates releasing a subsequent round of Commonwealth Places funding, which may or may not also be dedicated to COVID-19 response, before June 30, 2021.

For more information about applying to the Commonwealth Places Program:

Small Business Tax Relief Efforts Announced

The Baker-Polito Administration, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House have announced additional administrative tax relief measures for local businesses that have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. 

This tax relief builds upon previous similar tax extensions and includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes for small businesses that would be due from March through August, so that they will instead be due in September. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and businesses that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes. 

For businesses with meals tax and room occupancy tax obligations that do not otherwise qualify for this relief, late-file and late-pay penalties will be waived during this period. 

CMRPC Launches Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program

The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) is administering a grant assistance program to small businesses in Central Massachusetts impacted by the closure and losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program is funded by the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, through the Small Business Relief Partnership Grant Program. CMRPC was awarded $45,000 to distribute funds to small businesses in Central Massachusetts.

For the purposes of this grant, a “small business” shall mean any for-profit business or non-profit organization with a physical place of business within one of the forty communities within the CMRPC service area with twenty or fewer employees prior to Governor Baker’s state of emergency declaration (on or about March 10, 2020). All applicants will be required to demonstrate a direct or indirect financial hardship resulting from COVID-19.

CMRPC will award grants up to $2,000 to small businesses for eligible business expenses related to COVID-19. Grants of less than $2,000 will be considered. Awards will be limited to one award per business. Multiple businesses may apply in a single joint application; however, the total award will be limited to $5,000 per joint application. Businesses that apply as part of a joint application shall not be eligible to apply separately.  

The application period will run from June 22nd, 2020 until September 1st. 2020 or until funds are depleted, whichever is sooner.

Businesses must be located in an eligible community in order to be considered; eligible communities include: Auburn, Barre, Berlin, Blackstone, Boylston, Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, East Brookfield, Grafton, Hardwick, Holden, Hopedale, Leicester, Mendon, Millbury, Millville, New Braintree, Northborough, Northbridge, North Brookfield, Oakham, Oxford, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Shrewsbury, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Warren, Webster, Westborough, West Boylston, West Brookfield and Worcester.
SBA Releases New PPP Loan Forgiveness Application

The Small Business Administration has released an updated application form for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers seeking loan forgiveness. Under the PPP Flexibility Act, borrowers receiving PPP loans prior to June 5 will have the option to choose either an eight-week or a 24-week “covered period” during which they can spend their loan proceeds.

Biweekly MetroWest Employer Town Hall Series

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

These discussions are open to any interested party, and are held every other Wednesday at 1:00 PM via Zoom. The next session will be held on July 8th; click here to sign up!

  • Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
  • Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
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 [email protected] .

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership