Springfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield agencies receive MassDevelopment grants to support small businesses

February 8, 2023 : MassLive, Aprell May Munford

The Greater Holyoke Chamber, Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services and Berkshire Black Economic Council in Pittsfield are among the 13 organizations statewide that received grants to support their communities’ small businesses.

On Wednesday, MassDevelopment, the development finance agency for the state, announced a round of small-business support grants from its Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) program that will fund projects such as storefront improvements, equipment upgrades and technical assistance.

“We know that funding for small business growth and retention is a priority in all communities, and the organizations we are awarding TDI Local funding to today have designed outstanding projects to help meet this need,” Dan Rivera, MassDevelopment president and CEO, said in a statement.

MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative program funds small-business support programs that are developed and run at the local level. The main reason for the MassDevelopment grants is to stimulate economic growth across the commonwealth.

MassDevelopment has invested $20 million in Transformative Development Initiative districts within the state’s Gateway Cities since 2015. Those investments — which include grant programs and technical assistance — has then led to more than $100 million in public and private investments, MassDevelopment said.

The state defines Gateway Cities as small-to-midsized cities with a population between 35,000 and 250,000 with below state average household incomes and educational attainment rates. Massachusetts has 26 Gateway Cities.

“This $1.5 million investment from MassDevelopment will boost small businesses in 13 Gateway Cities by helping them attract customers and grow operations,” said Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao.

The Greater Holyoke Chamber will use its $106,500 grant to advance small businesses by offering technical assistance and grant funding for storefront improvement projects. Its goal is to improve walkability in the Holyoke Transformative Development Initiative district.

According to MassDevelopment, Holyoke’s Transformative Development Initiative district is located at the intersection of four neighborhoods in the Center City area, which includes Churchill, Downtown Holyoke, South Holyoke and The Flats.

The Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services was awarded $125,000. The funds will be used for its Branding, Storytelling and Placemaking Activation Program for Mason Square small businesses and community.

The placemaking program will provide grants and consulting services to small businesses seeking to better brand and market themselves. Furthermore, the organization will use the grant to help make the commercial area in Mason Square more walkable.

In Pittsfield, the Berkshire Black Economic Council, Inc. will use its $111,000 assisting entrepreneurs fill vacant storefronts in the district. The funds will be used to help business owners move into storefronts, market themselves and with rent.

“Thriving small businesses are at the core of vibrant, walkable downtowns and main streets,” said Hao, who also serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s board of directors.

In total, MassDevelopment awarded over $1,520,000 in grants to organizations across the state.

Other awardees include Downtown Attleboro Business Association, Downtown Hyannis Community Development Corporation, Bristol County Chamber Foundation, Inc., Bristol County Chamber Foundation, Inc., Bristol County Chamber Foundation, Inc., Lawrence Partnership, Lowell Plan, Inc., Lynn Main Streets, Inc., Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts, Inc., Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc., Heart of Taunton, Inc. and Worcester Common Ground, Inc.