By Senator Sal DiDomenico
As a State Senator, one of my greatest sources of pride has always been my district’s small business community. I grew up in a small business, living above my parents’ flower shop as a kid. My entire life, I witnessed the hard work and dedication it takes to run a small business, and the struggles that so many owners face. I have always understood that the backbone of our economy is our small business community, and today I have an intimate understanding of how much that community is hurting due to the fallout of the COVID-19 emergency.
Every day, I hear from family-owned businesses, restaurant owners, and small shops about the enormous toll this pandemic has had on their businesses and employees. While federal small business relief programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Express Bridge Loans, and Small Business Association Debt Relief have been made available to help our nation’s small businesses, I also know that accessing these relief options has not been easy.
To my local small business community: please know I hear your concerns. I know that these are exceptionally challenging and frustrating times as you navigate your federal relief options. However, I want you to know that you do not need to face these difficult times alone. There are a number of technical assistance resources out there to help small business owners apply for and access relief, and I wanted to highlight a few that may be particularly helpful. Additionally, my office is always available to connect you with these programs that are assisting our small businesses.
First and foremost, the United States Small Business Administration’s Boston District Office is available to provide financial and technical assistance to small business owners. The SBA works with a number of local partners to counsel, mentor, and train small businesses, and they can connect you with support provided by their Resource Partners, such as SCORE offices, Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. All of that information on assistance can be accessed on the SBA’s website.
On a local level, the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) COVID-19 Small Business Stabilization Network is offering small business support, including lending, financial education, and business coaching. This network consists of 48 Small Business Technical Assistance grantees and nonprofit organizations brought together by MGCC. Together, this network covers the whole state. Additionally, MGCC is supporting Massachusetts’s small business owners by providing multilingual application assistance for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Programs. Small business owners interested in receiving help from the MGCC and the COVID-19 Small Business Stabilization Network should visit the MGCC website for details.
Another important resource that is available, especially for our district, is the Massachusetts Equitable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Access Initiative. This initiative is committed to providing timely access to the Small Business Association PPP for underbanked businesses and historically disadvantaged demographic groups, including people of color and women. A coalition of banks is committing to making PPP loans directly and a network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are providing technical assistance with loan applications. If you are a minority-owned business, you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
Of course, these are only just a few highlights of technical assistance options that are available. The www.mass.gov website has a comprehensive list of COVID-19 resources and guidance for businesses that I encourage you to explore for a full overview.
Finally, please know that my office and the Massachusetts Senate are hard at work exploring all the options we can take to support our small business community. While we face a long road to recovery, I am fully committed to supporting the small businesses that have always made my district so vibrant over the years. I will continue advocating for our small businesses, and my office is always here to provide any assistance or guidance that they may need.