Grants helping Greenfield businesses recover from pandemic
May 12, 2021 : Greenfield Recorder, by Anita Fritz
GREENFIELD — As summer approaches, the Greenfield Business Association is continuing to help local businesses pay for some of the equipment they need to optimize the outdoor dining and shopping experience for their patrons.
The group has secured another $10,000 through crowdfunding and a matching grant from the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, better known as MassDevelopment, for a total of $20,000 since last fall.
According to Greenfield Business Association Coordinator Rachel Roberts, the group is providing more mini-grants of up to $1,100. Those grants can be used to buy outdoor equipment like tables, chairs, umbrellas, clothing racks for retailers, signs, lighting and more.
“We received an initial grant of $10,000,” she said. “We awarded mini-grants last fall. We had wanted to give the grants in July as businesses started to reopen, but that didn’t work out, so businesses purchased their outdoor supplies and we reimbursed them. All they needed were their receipts.”
Roberts said it’s great that the state has gotten money into the hands of businesses that suffered during the pandemic either because they had to close or had to do business a different way.
“Every business that requested money the first time around got what they needed up to the maximum amount,” she said. “Not everyone needed that much, and they’d tell us what they did need and say they wanted other businesses to be able to participate.”
Ten businesses received grants last fall and winter, and when that was over, the Greenfield Business Association started crowdfunding to raise another $5,000 so it could get a matching grant from MassDevelopment.
The businesses that received grants early in the process were Main Street Bar & Grille, Hope & Olive, Meadows Cafe, Mesa Verde, Denny’s Pantry, Terrazza, Hangar Pub and Grill, Adams Donuts, Bonnie B’s and Brad’s Place.
Over the next week or so, Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, 10 Forward, Magpie Pizzeria, Wild Roots, Tito’s Taqueria, The LAVA Center, Roundabout Books and Artspace will receive grants.
“We made the application process as easy as possible,” she said. “We asked two questions about what they needed and how much.”
Roberts said business owners like Christina Guevin-Gurney of Main Street Bar & Grille and Dan Devine of Brad’s Place both took advantage of the grant the first time around.
“They were great to us,” said Devine, who bought tables and umbrellas.
Devine said the process was easy and the Greenfield Business Association was helpful and receptive.
“It’s a great experience and they are really good to you,” he said. “It’s there to help you do well and keep going during hard times.”
Devine said he submitted his receipts and received a check shortly after. Any eligible equipment must have been purchased after May 18, 2020. Receipts must be given to the Greenfield Business Association with the application, along with contact information.
“They stay with you through the process,” he said. “They check in with you. Everyone has been so great through the pandemic — the GBA, the banks, the city. Everyone wants local businesses to succeed.”
Guevin-Gurney echoed Devine’s sentiments and said she bought tables, umbrellas, umbrella weights and more.
“This grant came at a pivotal time the first time around,” she said. “It was in the fall, so we couldn’t use the equipment more than a month or so, but it really helped.”
Guevin-Gurney said the restaurant was open at 25 percent capacity, so outdoor dining allowed it to have a few more customers.
“We could have something like 23 people inside and this allowed us another 12 outside,” she said. “We used every penny.”
People are attracted to the umbrellas, realizing that they are there for dining at a local restaurant. Guevin-Gurney added that outdoor dining on Main Street has been in high demand and after purchasing one large table that sits six, the restaurant can now seat 18 outside.
“The GBA, Chamber of Commerce and city have been so helpful,” she said. “We borrowed planters from the city and they are full of flowers, which just makes it all more attractive.”
Three board members make the final decision about who receives a grant and how much. Roberts said since last fall, the Greenfield Business Association has awarded 18 businesses grants.
“It’s fabulous that we were able to do that,” she said. “Receiving as many applications as we did and awarding 18 businesses demonstrates that there’s a real need, and we were able to help with just a fraction of what the businesses need."