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MassDevelopment Awards $107,000 for Small Business Growth in Eastern Massachusetts Gateway Cities

January 17, 2019


Kelsey Schiller, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2011 & 617-694-9695 (cell)

MassDevelopment has announced $107,000 in grants to four Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) districts to support downtown improvements for business growth and job creation. A component of TDI, MassDevelopment’s program for Gateway Cities designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts, TDI Local awards small grants to support local market development.

“The Transformative Development Initiative small business acceleration grant program brings meaning to the phrase ‘a little bit goes a long way,’” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “By providing small grants to help entrepreneurs open shop, upgrade their storefront, or increase foot traffic, we are working to improve local business development in Gateway City neighborhoods and set the stage for follow-on investment.”

Last fall, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $140,000 in funding through the program for three Western Massachusetts cities. Today’s announcement completes the second round of this competitive grant program; the first round, which took place in FY17, included awards made to 12 projects in nine TDI Districts, with a total of $354,000 awarded.

TDI Local requires awardees to demonstrate a competitive match and makes grants through four categories:

  • Local Lift, to enhance storefront improvement programs;
  • Lease it Local, to provide lease subsidies and small build-out grants to businesses opening in vacant storefronts;
  • Find it Local, to increase business district visibility, marketing, lighting, and wayfinding; and
  • A unique program category designed by the applicant to support small businesses within their district.

TDI Local funding is awarded as block grants to representative public or not-for-profit organizations within the TDI Partnerships. The block grants, matched with local funding, are distributed to sub-grantees through locally developed programs designed to suit those individual communities’ needs and priorities.

TDI Small Business Acceleration Grant Awards:

City of Haverhill - $25,000
The City received a $25,000 Local Lift grant that it will match with $28,000 to enhance its existing façade improvement program with increased design, lighting, and interior services that will incentivize business owners to become involved with the program. This grant is an extension of the $25,000 grant the City was awarded in FY17.

Lynn Community Development - $25,000
Lynn Community Development will use Local Lift funds to expand Lynn’s existing Commercial Façade Program, which provides grant assistance for downtown businesses looking to invest in new signage, lighting, and awnings. Beyond Walls and other initiatives related to Lynn’s Arts and Cultural District have spurred increased attention to the downtown, motivating merchants to improve their storefronts. Lynn Community Development will match grant funds with an additional $25,000.

New Bedford Economic Development Council - $30,000
This Local Lift grant will support New Bedford Economic Development Council’s Wicked Nice Places program, a collaborative of business and building owners, design and preservation experts from the Waterfront Area Historic League, and business development experts from the New Bedford Economic Development Council. This grant is an extension of a $40,000 grant the program received in FY17; the newly awarded funds, which will be matched with an additional $30,000, will allow Wicked Nice Places to provide enhanced technical assistance and brick-and-mortar investments that will improve the design of the public realm and the success of district businesses.

Downtown New Bedford Inc. - $15,000
Downtown New Bedford Inc. has created a district branding campaign for the TDI District and downtown neighborhood: #doitDNB. The organization will use this Find it Local grant to produce and distribute high quality digital and video content that highlights local businesses and other district features. Downtown New Bedford Inc. will match grant funds with an additional $7,500.

City of Peabody - $12,000
The Main Street Exchange has developed a unique proposal to activate an empty storefront in Peabody’s TDI District by establishing a new marketplace where business vendors and artists can operate. The Exchange will use grant funds to create an RFP process for potential vendors and artists, and the City and other partners will match grant funds with an additional $12,000.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2018, MassDevelopment financed or managed 384 projects generating investment of more than $4.1 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,994 jobs and build or rehabilitate 830 housing units.