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Springfield Offers New Round Of Money To Help Small Businesses

a row of small shops on a deserted pedestrian way

  The largest city in western Massachusetts is offering a financial lifeline to small businesses suffering from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

   The city of Springfield has set aside $500,000 to provide grants to small businesses.

     It is the second round of a business assistance program, called “Prime the Pump,” that saw overwhelming initial demand.

        While the first round was restricted to restaurants, this time grants up to $15,000 are being offered to businesses of all kinds that agree to retain employees.   

     Applications are available for download from the city’s website and are due at 3 p.m. this Thursday April 16th.

     Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city wants to get the money to businesses as soon as possible.

      "These are grants, unlike the feds and state which are low-interest loans," said Sarno, emphasising that what the city is offering will not have to be paid back.

      The program was set up using federal Community Development Block Grant funds as a way to help small businesses bridge the current economic downturn, according to Tim Sheehan, Springfield’s chief economic official.

      "It is important to note that the intent of these grants is ultimately to allow these businesses to be sustainable until the federal funding can be deployed," said Sheehan.

      Earlier, the city gave a total of $220,000 to 30 restaurants.  Almost 80 restaurants applied for funds. 

     The recipients of the money preserved a total of 30 jobs, according to Sheehan.

    "We were very pleased to see the ethnic and geographic diversity of those awards," said Sheehan.

     The city is also delaying payment due dates for real estate and personal property taxes and for other business-specific fees.

     While offering a helping hand to small businesses owners, Sarno has also issued a warning to some that may be trying to circumvent the current shutdown orders.

     "If I hear of any pouring establishments trying to be a speakeasy, don't do it," said Sarno.

      Sarno said bars caught surreptitiously serving people during the pandemic are putting their alcoholic beverage licenses at risk.


Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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