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City Announces $3.6 Million in Small Business Relief Programs

The City of Cambridge and Cambridge Redevelopment Authority will provide $3.6 million to assist small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the city announced Tuesday.
The City of Cambridge and Cambridge Redevelopment Authority will provide $3.6 million to assist small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the city announced Tuesday. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Camille G. Caldera and Charles Xu, Crimson Staff Writers

The City of Cambridge and Cambridge Redevelopment Authority will provide $3.6 million to assist small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the city announced Tuesday.

The Small Business Grant Program will offer qualifying businesses up to $10,000 to assist with rent, salaries, utilities, and the cost of goods. The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority will also provide local businesses with zero-interest loans of up to $15,000.

Though the initiatives are separate and are being funded independently, they will share a common application process. Businesses may receive approval for the full $25,000, or three months of business expenses up to that amount.

The city will fund the grants using $500,000 from the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund and $1.6 million in federal funds, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

“Through the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund, our goal has always been to extend this emergency financial support to as many Cambridge residents as possible,” Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said in a press release Tuesday. “We have always known that the second phase of distributing funds would include extending that support to our City’s small businesses.”

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, serviced by the Cambridge Savings Bank, will fund the loan program and will provide up to $1.5 million in additional relief funds.

Businesses must repay the loan within five years, with zero payments in the first year and semiannual payments for the next four years.

All small businesses located in Cambridge qualify for the funds, provided they are not non-locally franchised chain restaurants, do not have outstanding invoices with the City of Cambridge prior to Fiscal Year 2020, and have not been cited for two or more health code violations within the past two years.

Denise A. Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said she appreciated the city’s willingness to help small businesses during the pandemic.

“We are so pleased with the 3.6 million dollar grant and loan program to support small businesses and are enthusiastically encouraging our member businesses to apply,” Jillson said. “At this point, every program is important, every dollar is a help.”

She added that, since the COVID-19 outbreak prompted a statewide stay-at-home advisory, Harvard Square has experienced a significant increase in business closures. Of the 200 eateries and retail businesses in the square, less than 25 remain in operation, Jillson said.

—Staff writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at camille.caldera@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.

—Staff writer Charles Xu can be reached at charles.xu@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @charles_xu_27.

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Cambridge City CouncilCambridgeSquare BusinessMetro NewsMetroCoronavirus