Grants to aid small businesses in Amherst 

  • A view of Main Street in downtown Amherst on Saturday afternoon, March 14, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Saturday, May 30, 2020

AMHERST — Businesses facing dire financial effects from the COVID-19 pandemic could be in line for grants up to $10,000 from supplemental Community Development Block Grant money the town is set to receive.

As a mini-entitlement community, Amherst is eligible to apply for up to $400,000 that can be used to establish a microenterprise assistance program for businesses with five or fewer employees, one of whom owns the business, and for supporting public social service programs that keep people fed, prevent homelessness, and provide job training for health care workers and technicians.

A mini-entitlement community is defined by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development as one that can apply for the federal money due to a statistical need based on the population of low-and moderate-income residents. Unlike Amherst, both Northampton and Holyoke are full entitlement cities and automatically get the funding.

The federal CARES Act, which is the source of the money that is going to DHCD.

“In order to help the town and committee review proposals, we are asking agencies that are proposing an activity to write a two- to three-page activity description that meets the criteria outlined by DHCD, and to include a budget of the proposed activity,” Senior Planner Nathaniel Malloy said.

The town has a June 5 submission deadline.

DHCD is also providing emergency rental and mortgage assistance, coordinating this with the existing Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program, or RAFT Program.