LISC and Citizens Bank Launch Small Business Recovery Grants for Massachusetts

Jerry Sargent

BOSTON– Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Boston and Citizens announced the launch of the LISC Small Business Recovery Grant Program for Massachusetts, which will provide grants to hard-hit small businesses to weather the immediate financial impact of closures and social distancing measures required to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

LISC will offer grants of up to $10,000 to address immediate financial peril, limit layoffs, avoid gaps in employee benefits or insurance, mitigate economic instability and increase the likelihood of business survival.  Launched with seed funding provided by Citizens, the Small Business Recovery Grant Program is part of the LISC Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund for Massachusetts.  The Fund also aims to provide critical technical assistance and longer-term funding to help vulnerable businesses and community-serving nonprofits weather the effects of the pandemic.

Small businesses employ nearly half the private workforce in Massachusetts and can be a path to economic stability for minority- and immigrant families.  Most have come to a grinding halt, with little or no revenue and many bills still piling up.  The CARES Act will help many, but some smaller and more vulnerable will not be able to access federal programs or will be unable to qualify for or support repayment of loans.  Grants and technical assistance are critical to the survival of these businesses.

 “Citizens is committed to supporting small businesses in the Commonwealth,” said Jerry Sargent, President of Citizens Bank, Massachusetts. “The LISC Recovery Grant Program offers business leaders an opportunity to support the immediate needs of small businesses and help set the stage for a sustainable and equitable recovery.  We encourage business leaders throughout the state to join us in this effort to provide much need resources to strengthen the foundation of our economy.”  Citizens’ $400,000 commitment to LISC’s program is part of its $5 million commitment of funding for communities and small business recovery across the bank’s service area.

“Business stepping up to help business reflects the Commonwealth’s commitment to the resiliency of all of our communities and presents an opportunity to prioritize equity in our response to this crisis.  We are grateful to Citizens for its leadership and partnership,” said LISC Boston Executive Director Karen Kelleher.  “The need is compelling, and the time is now.  These businesses may not survive if we wait to see where need remains after federal aid flows.”

Applications will be accepted online from Monday, April 20 to Friday, April 24, and guidance will be available in English, Spanish and several other languages through LISC Boston’s website.  To focus the grants where they will have the greatest impact, LISC will be inviting business support organizations, small business accelerators, and community networks across the state to encourage the at-risk small businesses in their communities to apply.

Funding priority will be given to vulnerable businesses, including minority- and women-owned businesses and small businesses that are the lifeblood of low-income communities throughout the Commonwealth.   The seed funding round is currently anticipated to assist up to 50 businesses, with additional grants to the extent of available funding.