BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced a coronavirus economic recovery plan worth nearly $775 million Thursday. It includes nearly $51 million in grants for small businesses.
Baker said during a news conference that the state was hit hard early in the coronavirus pandemic and “the Massachusetts economy was turned upside down” by what he described as “painful decisions and adjustments.”
“These businesses and workers that make up our downtowns are owned and operated by many of our friends and neighbors. They need our help, and their need is significant,” said Baker.
Business owners can apply for the grants through the Empowering Small Business website.
The funds can be used to cover expenses such as payroll and benefits costs, mortgage payments, rent, utilities, and interest on debt obligations.
“These funds will be invested to get people back to work, to assist impacted small businesses, to revitalize main streets, to foster innovation, and to promote and provide neighborhood stability and housing equity,” said Baker.
Applications for small business grants close on November 12. Grant awards will range between $25,000 and $75,000 depending on a businesses size.
Joyce Kosofsky, the owner of Brattle Book Shop in Boston, says her business is hoping to secure one of the grants for small businesses.
“There are no students, there are no tourists and there are no business people coming in during their lunch hour, which was a very good part of our business,” said Kosofsky. “Payroll is my biggest concern. I don’t want to let anybody go. We haven’t, and I need help.”
Like the Brattle Book Shop, One Gig, a lifestyle and skate shop relies on downtown foot and board traffic. The owner of One Gig, Ferguson Herivaux, says his business will also apply for the grant..
“We’re definitely going to try, very hopeful. I’m glad the Governor made that gesture,” said Herivaux.
Officials said they will look at which industries the companies are in, and prioritize companies run by women, veterans and minorities.
About $175 million of the recovery plan needs to be worked out in the legislature, while the other $600 million is from capital and state funding.
“If all goes according to plan, a lot of this will be out of the door before the end of the calendar year,” said Baker.
Baker said it is important to make residents feel comfortable knowing they can go inside a store or retail establishment. The governor said thousands of inspections have been conducted on local businesses over the last several months and “most businesses are complying.”