October 22nd Information &
Resources Update
State Announces New Economic Stabilization & Growth Investments, New Small Business Grants

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a $774 million plan aimed at stabilizing and spurring growth in the state's economy, "Partnerships for Recovery." The program begins today by directing $115 million in new funding to small businesses and downtowns hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and for workforce training efforts.

The "Partnerships for Recovery" program, as announced, includes:
  • $115 million in immediate spending in support of small businesses and workforce training
  • Directing $323 million in existing capital programs as part of the response
  • Filing for $122 million through the Revised H.2 proposed state budget to supplement existing funding in support of struggling businesses and skill building for residents
  • Steering $43 million in Federal, trust, and other state funding toward critical needs

New Small Business Grant Program

Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) is administering a Small Business Grants program, with $50.8 million available beginning today. Grant awards range between $25,000 and $75,000; eligibility criteria and applications are available online here. Applications for the Small Business Grants program are now open.

As part of this grant program, preference is given to small businesses whose owners are women, minorities, veterans, members of other underrepresented groups, or focused on serving the Gateway Cities of Massachusetts, who have been unable to open and those most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Preference is also given to applicants that have not been able to receive aid from other federal programs, including PPP and other relief related to COVID-19.

The program has two distinct funding “doors” based on business size, with different eligibility criteria, which is available online. Applicants must review the information to determine which program to proceed with applying.  

Employment & Workforce Development

The program includes new investments intended to build workforce skills, grow training programs and pathways, forge new partnerships between employers and workers, and supporting internet connectivity to facilitate remote work and online career advancement. The $25 million available now includes:
  • $10.4 million to engage Massachusetts employers by expanding workforce partnerships with large employers in target sectors to create aligned statewide training-employment pathways
  • $9.2 million to subsidize internet for low-income populations, and to expand hot spots in unserved and underserved communities
  • $3.2 million to modernize MassHire virtual pathways to assess and connect UI claimants to appropriate services and supports
  • $2 million to bolster manufacturing training by purchasing a standardized virtual training program to increase workforce for the manufacturing sector
  • $300,000 to supplement $8.4 million toward Career Technical Institutes in the Governor's proposed FY21 state budget to help close the skills gap for skilled technician jobs and align training to industry needs

An additional $54 million is available to support workforce recovery efforts through existing programming such as the Skills Capital Grants program, the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, and the Workforce Training Trust Fund.

The Governor's revised, proposed FY21 state budget also proposes $17.9 million in workforce funding, including $8.4 million in funding to transform vocational high schools into Career Technical Institutes running three shifts per day. This initiative is designed to train 20,000 new workers over four years in skilled trades and technical fields including plumbing, HVAC, manufacturing, and robotics. This will consist of a combination of enrolling more high school students in high-impact vocational trade programs and expanding capacity for adults to earn industry-based credentials, aligned to apprenticeships and post-secondary degrees.
Direct Support to Small Business and Downtowns; New Round of Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program

The program invests $322.8 million in direct support of small businesses and communities. Additional funding will support small businesses through hands-on and personalized technical assistance, including targeted support for women- and minority-owned businesses around digital and online technology as their business model pivots away from a brick-and-mortar location.

A new $10 million round of the Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program will continue to help cities and towns quickly implement or expand improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce in their communities. Click here to access additional information about the Shared Streets and Spaces program. Separately, local recovery planning grants will soon be available to cities and towns to assist with long-term planning for their business districts.

To support museums and other cultural facilities that have faced a particularly challenging year, but remain a cornerstone of what Massachusetts offers to visitors, these institutions will be eligible for $10 million in Cultural Facilities Operating Grants. This funding will enable these organizations to make safety improvements and other upgrades to allow them to continue to offer attractions and exhibits.

Life Sciences

$62 million in existing capital funding through the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and MassVentures is available to support recovery and growth.

EPA Presentation and Q&A Tuesday: Potential New Stormwater Requirement for the Charles River Watershed
In 2019, EPA Region 1 received a petition from the Conservation Law Foundation and the Charles River Watershed Association asking that EPA use its Residual Designation Authority to require permits for stormwater discharges that are not otherwise regulated for commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities within the Charles River watershed.

EPA is now formulating a response to the petition. EPA Region 1 staff will make a presentation on this process to the 495/MetroWest Partnership, virtually via Zoom, this coming Tuesday, October 27th, at 8:30 AM. The presentation will be followed by a Question and Answer period. Click here to register for this event.

Participating on behalf of the EPA will be:
  • Ken Moraff, Water Director
  • Newton Tedder, Senior Permit Writer
  • Erin Flannery-Keith, Attorney-Advisor, Office of Regional Counsel 

All 495/MetroWest Partnership stakeholders are invited to participate. Partnership communities that are fully or partially located within the Charles River watershed are Ashland, Bellingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Medfield, Medway, Milford, Millis, Natick, Norfolk, Sherborn, Wayland, and Wrentham.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. You may reach me directly via email at jason@495partnership.org.

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership