Sixteen local small businesses in Amherst, were beneficiaries of the first round of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The vast majority of the awardees were businesses owned by members of a marginalized community,
To date, there have been ten existing business grant awards, three new business grant awards, and three awards of technical assistance to local Amherst businesses totaling $49,500. So far, 98% of the funding distributed has gone to small businesses currently owned or looking to open in Amherst by entrepreneurs who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), LGBTQ+, or women. There will be a second round of new business grants announced this winter.
As part of the Town’s ARPA spending plan, $100,000 in economic assistance was set aside for small businesses in Amherst. Working with the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) to manage the program, a minimum of 50% of funds were reserved for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, women, or other marginalized community owned businesses. Financial stability and negative economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic were also considered when awarding these growth, startup, and technical assistance opportunities.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman stated, “Small businesses are the core strength of our community. These businesses produce jobs and create the thriving, robust business community that binds the community together. I thank the BID for its outreach, recruitment, and selection efforts to ensure these funds benefitted our local economy.”
Executive Director of the Amherst BID, Gabrielle Gould added, “Having these grants go through our office was a natural step. During the pandemic, the BID was instrumental in getting over $250,000 in small business grants to the Amherst community through the Downtown Amherst Foundation. While we have simplified the grants process as much as possible, we are thrilled with the applicants we have had to date. A lot of work goes into this program, and it is important to note that the BID takes no funding or administration fees for its work. 100% of these funds will be in the hands of small businesses in Amherst.”
Some of the businesses that have benefited include:
- Pita Pockets: “The grant helped us tremendously because we were able to get the new grill for the store. We could switch the old one to a stronger one. The more powerful grill is faster with more capacity. It will be faster, quicker, and more efficient. We save on gas! We appreciate everyone that helped us.”
- White Lion Brewery: “White Lion is very appreciative to be a recipient of the Town of Amherst New Business Grant. The reception and response from the greater Amherst community has been incredible. We are honored to be able to add a new experience to downtown, and the grant award will help the project meet its goals.”
- Mexicalito: “We used [the grant] for the music speakers outside. We also ordered a sign, and we put the lights up outside. We made it happen and with the music and the lighting, it looks really good. We have a lot planned. We want to make a Dj night, a karaoke night. We have a salsa night going already that is a great success. People have a really good time. The town had salsa in the park and held the after-party here. I see people from the event at my daughter’s school and I feel like a part of the community.”
- Big Basket: “It was useful because we had a low budget. The grant money allowed us to bring many more products to the shop. We’re going to introduce meats and have already gotten new frozen goods.”
- The Closet: “I am so thankful for the Small Business Growth Grant; because of this grant I was able to upgrade my point-of-sale system. This allowed me to streamline business processes and simplify the checkout process for customers. Which I hope adds to the shopping experience at The Closet.”
Learn more about the Town’s ARPA spending plan and progress at www.amherstma.gov/arpa