Springfield gives $2.2 million in federal COVID recovery grants to small businesses and nonprofits
City has allocated nearly all the $123 million it received from the American Rescue Plan Act
Another round of federal COVID-19 recovery funds has been awarded to small businesses and nonprofits in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts.
A total of $2.2 million has been awarded to 23 small businesses and 16 nonprofit organizations by Mayor Domenic Sarno, who announced the grants at City Hall Wednesday with many of the recipients present.
“Another good day in the city of Springfield,” Sarno said.
Over the last two years, Springfield has allocated $102 million from the $123 million the city received from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The money has gone to small businesses, nonprofits, individuals, neighborhood councils, and to initiatives to preserve the city’s housing stock and to repurpose historic buildings.
“I want to make sure the money went to deserving Springfield residents in need, businesses in need, nonprofits in need,… and to neighborhoods in need,” Sarno said.
To qualify, businesses had to submit an application and support documents detailing the impacts from the pandemic. An advisory panel that includes a member of the City Council reviews each application. The final decision is up to Sarno.
In this latest round, one of the largest single awards, $400,000 went to the Springfield Thunderbirds hockey team. Sarno, a season ticket holder, said the home hockey games are a big contributor to the city’s economy.
“When the T-birds are in town, downtown is hopping, places are packed both before and after (the game),” Sarno said.
The Thunderbirds succeeded a failed American Hockey League franchise in Springfield in 2016. They were building a strong fanbase and becoming part of the community when COVID hit and the AHL shut down for a year-and-a-half, said Thunderbirds’ president Nathan Costa.
“We are a small business at the end of the day,” Costa said. He said they went from 18 employees to 7 during the pandemic shutdown.
He said the money from the city will be used for community programs.
“One (program) we put a lot into is our school day game where we bring kids out to the building that would normally not get to come to the building and experience a professional hockey game but also have it be educational,” Costa said.
Sarno said he is proud that more than 80 percent of the ARPA grants to small businesses have gone to entities that are minority- or woman-owned.
In this latest round, $100,000 was awarded to the Latino Economic Development Corporation. The organization’s president Andrew Melendez said he is very grateful.
“It has been a challenging time,” he said. “These ARPA funds will make a true impact.”
With the APRA money that is left, Sarno said he intends to put it toward projects that benefit the entire city.
“It doesn’t leave me much for projects I want to do in the city,” Sarno said.
The city is continuing to process a backlog of thousands of applications from individuals seeking to claim up to $1,400 in COVID recovery assistance.