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Business Assistance & Resources

Business Assistance & Resources

Businesses across the City of Worcester, especially small businesses, have been impacted by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemmic. To help lessen the strain, businesses can take advantage of a variety of local, state and federal assistance programs and grants.

Business Resources

Re-Opening Worcester - Outdoor Dining Applications

Restaurant Tables and Chairs Setup and Empty Outdoors

Pursuant to the Governor's June 2, 2020 Order and the City Manager's June 3, 2020 Executive Order, the City of Worcester is accepting applications for the temporary extension of restaurants to provide for outdoor table service. Once reviewed and approved by the Worcester License Commission, restaurants will be able to offer expanded outdoor dining options under Phase II of the Commonwealth's re-opening plan. This expedited application process will significantly decrease the timeframe for extending existing restaurants into outdoor spaces, and additionally offer expanded opportunities for outdoor dining.

To facilitate the expedited application process, the Worcester License Commission is scheduling additional meetings to review and process applications under the City's temporary outdoor dining program.

There is no fee to apply for a temporary outdoor dining extension:

For more information, email OutdoorDining@worcesterma.gov (preferred) or call 508-799-1400 x31440.

Small Business Assistance

Numerous Federal, State and Local programs and policy changes have been introduced to provide small business assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. To reach the City's Economic Development Office staff, email development@worcesterma.gov

Small Business Resiliency Program

The City of Worcester (City) has established the COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Grant to assist in the stabilization of existing small businesses within the City of Worcester that have had significant business disruption due to the impact of COVID-19. These grant funds will assist small business in the City of Worcester to cover wages, rent, loss of inventory, and other fixed costs. Grants are capped at $5,000 per business.

Minimum Eligible Criteria

  • Have a physical establishment occupying commercial space within the City of Worcester.
  • The business owner must be low- to moderate-income (see income thresholds in application).
  • Have experienced a loss of revenue of 50% or more due to COVID-19.
  • Have less than $2,000,000 in gross annual revenues.
  • Have not been approved for funding through other grant or forgivable loan programs related to COVID-19 relief.
  • Be in good standing with no outstanding tax liens or legal judgements.

*NOTE: The second round of applications closed on Wednesday, May 6:

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Translation Assistance

The City's grant staff speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Albanian and Portuguese. The City also has access to translation assistance for additional languages. Please email a request for assistance to development@worcesterma.gov.

Microloan Suspension

The City of Worcester is suspending until further notice all Microloan payments due to the City for small businesses within the City of Worcester that have participated in our microloan program.

U.S. Small Business Administration

The CARES Act established several new temporary SBA programs to address the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Paycheck Protection Program - Loans designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan & Emergency $10,000 Grant - Businesses applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan can now request a $10,000 loan advance for emergency, temporary relief. The $10,000 loan advance will not have to be repaid.
  • SBA Debt Relief - The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months. The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of new 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
  • SBA Express Bridge Loans - Allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can be term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.

Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act

Commonwealth of MA - Administrative Tax Relief

The Baker-Polito Administration announced state tax relief to support businesses. This tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April and May so that they will instead be due on June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.

Learn More

Business Continuity Resources

If you are an employer in Central Massachusetts and have an immediate need to fill critical positions, the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board can connect you with those looking for employment.

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COVID Housing Resources

Due to the historic Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium ordered by Governor Baker on April 20, 2020, and expired as of October 17, 2020, the City is aware that many residents and families in Worcester have struggled to keep up with rent and other financial obligations. On September 4, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an order titled Temporarily Halt in Residential Evictions Due to the Spread of COVID-19. This order prohibits evictions for tenants meeting certain requirements until after December 31, 2020.

As part of the CDC eviction moratorium, tenants are required to provide their landlords with a declaration form that they are unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These forms can be found below.

State & Local Housing Resources

RAFT Funding

On October 12, 2020, Governor Baker announced that $100 million in RAFT funding is being made available for tenants struggling to pay rent. Locally, two agencies administer these funds - Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance (CMHA) and RCAP Solutions, Inc. Additional information about RAFT and other program and how to apply for funding can be found on their websites:

Fuel Assistance

Legal Assistance for Eviction

Directory of Available City of Worcester Resources

Response & Relief Fund Grants

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The Worcester Together: Central Mass COVID-19 Fund aims to support organizations in Worcester County that are working with communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The focus of this Fund is rapid response to support organizations on the front lines of the pandemic.

Grants between $25,000 - $100,000 will be awarded to:

  • Provide resources for nonprofit organizations that are authentically connected and providing coronavirus related relief to Worcester County's most vulnerable populations including seniors, children, residents without access to paid sick days, healthcare and gig economy workers, communities of color, immigrants and people with disabilities.
  • Provide operating support to nonprofit organizations that are meeting community needs resulting from COVID-19 and are in financial distress.
  • Application Deadline is Monday, June 8

Learn More & Apply Today

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