The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission announced two new grant programs today that will bring over $1.6 million dollars in CARES Act funding to county small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Community and Economic Development Program Manager Patricia Mullins says the grants are targeted at low- to moderate-income business owners. Mullins spoke with WAMC.
MULLINS: The North County program has a lead community, which is the town of Adams, and there are 13 communities included in that grant program. The South County program has a lead of the town of Lenox. But there are 17 communities in South County that have been included in that program. So all together, it's quite a few. The only communities in Berkshire County that we will not be offering this to have actually already got programs established. And that would be, you know, separately, and that would be North Adams and Pittsfield. So every community in Berkshire County is covered under one or the other of these two programs.
WAMC: So let me ask you this- Let's say one of these small businesses who applies and actually gets a grant, what's the size of the grant? What are the limits on it? What should the expectations be there?
So each business owner who is income qualified can receive up to $10,000. These are grants, and the only stipulation is that they cover eligible expenses, and that the business owner uses the funds for those purposes only. So the sort of things that we may be able to help with is rent, and then utilities, any kind of staffing assistance that might be needed. We can help with technical assistance to sort of get the company up and running in response to the changes that we've seen in the economy to the COVID pandemic.
Now, at this point, do you have a sense of how many businesses or how many folks would be impacted by this program?
We have goals to this program. And they vary just slightly. We expect to be able to assist somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 businesses in both North County and South County, maybe a few more in North County. There was- Slightly more funding was awarded. But you know, it really depends on whether or not the business owners have a total of $10,000, some of these grants could be much smaller, it may turn out that folks can benefit by a much smaller grant. So it really just depends on how many people apply.
What else should we know about this, Pat?
I think what I really am excited about is that here is a program that has been developed very, very carefully. It's HUD funded, and we have received our funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. And it has been very thoughtfully planned that we will be assisting the business owners who really need it the most in Berkshire County. And that's, at this time, the small business owners. And so we are really, you know, excited and looking forward to being able to help as many as possible. And we just ask that folks go on our website, and that they look at the information that's there determine whether they should be applying to the North County or South County programs, and we have a list of all the towns and they can just give me a call if they'd like to know more about the program.