Amherst makes new round of ARPA grants available to new businesses and for professional services

  • Amherst Town Common

Staff Writer
Friday, January 20, 2023

AMHERST — A second round of new business and technical assistance grants, using federal American Rescue Plan Act money that came to Amherst, is being initiated this winter.

Amherst Business Improvement District Executive Director Gabrielle Gould announced this week that the BID, working closely with the town on economic recovery, revitalization and growth, is undertaking the effort for a second time, following an initiative last fall.

Applications from new businesses or people with prospective businesses will be accepted through Feb. 15. Then, a scoring system will be used by a committee to rank those that have applied, with award notices to be made at the end of February.

For new business grants, the idea is to support small brick and mortar shops with up to $10,000. Any applicant must have a fully executed lease and a business plan.

For technical assistance grants, the money will go to help pay for professional fees related to architects, attorneys, internal systems, build-out needs, or branding specialists for logos and web design. Eligible businesses must have a preliminary business plan, including a concept, budget and management plan, and have found space to open, though a fully executed lease is not required.

Businesses can’t be franchises and also must have 50 or fewer full-time employees and a location within Amherst. Certain types of businesses are excluded, including real estate rentals/sales, liquor stores, weapons/firearms dealers, lobbyists and cannabis.

Businesses awarded a grant are required to report back to the Amherst BID with proof of completion and use of funds.

The initial round of these grants raised concerns from the Black Business Association of Amherst Area about whether the money was being distributed equitably, and led to a call for the town to engage with local Black business owners who did not receive ARPA grants or were confused about how to apply.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said an emphasis has been placed on fair distribution and ensuring that outreach is being done to diverse businesses, including those owned by non-English speakers.

For more information, send email to info@amherstdowntown.com.