Lawrence D. Andrews: Grant program delivers for small businesses

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CHARLESTOWN — Even with our strong Massachusetts economy, small businesses face incredible odds of success. More so, small businesses owned by minorities, women, immigrants, veterans and individuals with low to moderate incomes often encounter additional challenges including access to capital, language and culture barriers, and limited experience with regulatory and permitting procedures.

To help close these gaps, Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), a quasi-public corporation of the Commonwealth, focuses on financial services and managerial assistance that saves and creates jobs at small businesses, operates a competitive grant program to provide access to one-on-one counseling, business training classes, capital and resources to small business owners who enhance our state's economy.

The Small Business Technical Assistance Grant Program is vital to Massachusetts' small business economy and has proved successful over the years. Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito recognized the contribution toward inclusiveness through the small business assistance technical grants, recommending $2 million in next year's budget.

In Pittsfield, the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation (PERC) received a $20,000 grant in Fiscal Year 2018 that provided one of many local small businesses the support it needed for expansion. A small manufacturing company founded in 1950 that designs molds for the medical industry had an opportunity to grow with the acquisition of another company and move to Pittsfield. PERC qualified the business for technical assistance, providing a consultant to assist in the transition and relocation of equipment. PERC's involvement has led to great results. The business's move is leading to a sales increase of 35 percent, is bringing 25 new jobs to the area, and there are future plans to grow.

An evaluation conducted by Mt. Auburn Associates, Inc. and Karl F. Seidman Consulting Services, found that the Small Business Technical Assistance Grant Program is a cost-effective state policy tool successfully fostering business development and job creation and retention. The grant program has proven to be an integral part of Massachusetts' small business ecosystem, expanding local capacity to serve their regional enterprises, particularly within underserved populations and communities.

The study analyzed the program's Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2018 grants totaling $5.6 million and reported that findings surmounted to significant impacts on thousands of small businesses. Results indicated that there were 7,718 jobs created or retained throughout Massachusetts. There were over 4,300 positive outcomes including the creation of new businesses, expansions and stabilizations. Nearly 90 percent of owners that received assistance through the program involve underserved populations facing barriers as their businesses grow. Accomplishments were also achieved in community revitalization with over half of the surveyed small businesses either reusing an abandoned or vacant building, or making improvements to their building and its surroundings.

MGCC has successfully administered the state-funded program, providing grants and resources to nonprofit organizations throughout Massachusetts to strengthen their capacity to provide technical assistance, access to capital, and training to local small businesses in their communities. The competitive grants range from $10,000 - $120,000 and focus on individual and partnership organizations in rural regions, Gateway Cities and underserved communities.

MGCC is proud to manage this valuable program which is leveraging talent in key communities across the state, helping to grow local employment, business skills, and balance sheets.

Lawrence D. Andrews is president and CEO of the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation




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