The Recorder – Council, Loan Fund to Support Western Massachusetts Businesses
GREENFIELD – The state recently announced additional financial support for small businesses in western Massachusetts, including those in Franklin County.
The Greenfield-based Franklin County Community Development Corporation (CDC) has received $ 1.25 million in loan capital and grants for businesses in western Massachusetts, according to a CDC press release from the Franklin County. CDC executive director John Waite said about $ 1 million of those funds, provided by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, will be loans, and about $ 200,000 will be for grants for small businesses.
âWe’ve been lending to small businesses for almost 40 years,â Waite said. âThis will allow us to provide more flexible loans to people who previously did not have access to credit. ”
In addition, in partnership with Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services and the North Adams Chamber of Commerce, the Franklin County CDC received $ 160,000 to hire staff to work directly with contractors and business owners for help overcome the challenges they faced as a result of COVID-19.
“(Franklin County CDC) has a loan program, and that helps us provide more loan funds to make more loans available to small businesses, as well as some small grants, to help them stabilize their resilience after COVID,” explained Amy Shapiro, business development director at Franklin County CDC.
The firmware, which benefits all businesses in Western Massachusetts, provides new and growing businesses with the technical assistance they need to apply for loans. The three organizations – Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin County CDC – are working together to distribute the funds.
âIt is basically the state that is committed to helping small businesses start, stabilize and grow,â she said.
Shapiro said that after more than a year of the pandemic, companies – some of whom took a hiatus during the pandemic, while others have pivoted and rethought their business models – need resources to help them move from the front.
âPart of our ongoing technical assistance is to continue to work with businessesâ¦ as they grow,â she said. âWe are emerging from such a difficult time that business owners are now looking around and seeing what resources are available. There are a lot of state resources now available, and it’s our job to connect them to those opportunities. ”
Shapiro said the funds will help companies access resources to build capacity, expand into new niches or “do things a little bit differently.” As an example, the Franklin County CDC recently launched an accounting program to help small business owners meet their accounting needs.
âWe know it’s a great need,â Shapiro said. “That was one of the drawbacks we saw this year: a lot of companies were behind in their accounts and it put them at a disadvantage when trying to access finance.”
Shapiro said the partnership between the Franklin County CDC, the North Adams Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services was not new; in fact, they’ve been working together for a year.
âThe collaboration is about helping us work together to increase the capacity of small business owners,â she said. âWe’ve been around for so many years andâ¦ have a strong business assistance program. Our partners are just starting their business assistance programs, so we’re helping them grow those programs. Public funds will help them to strengthen themselves and provide direct services to small businesses, as well as to hire consultants. ”
She said all three organizations have great teams who are committed to working together to support businesses.
âIt’s a really good project,â Shapiro said. âWe’ve been working all year together so it’s nothing new – it’s just extra funds to help us with the work we’ve been doing together all year. We have been recognized by the state as leaders in this work.
Businesses interested in receiving help from the CDC should call 413-774-7204.
Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne