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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.

COVID-19 Licensing Updates

State Announces move to Phase 4, Step 1 effective Monday, March 22, 2021.

  • Indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas and ballparks are permitted to operate at a 12% capacity limit.
  • Restaurants will no longer have a capacity limit but must continue to space tables 6-feet apart with no more than 6 people to each table and a 90 minute time limit for table dining.
  • The City of Worcester is lifting the restriction on bar-top dining.
  • Indoor theaters and performance venues are allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 500 people.

For all current Safety Guidelines, visit the Massachusetts Reopening Website

Re-Opening Worcester - Temporary Outdoor Dining Program

Restaurant Tables and Chairs Setup and Empty Outdoors

To provide safer dining options for residents and support the restaurant community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Worcester has implemented a Temporary Outdoor Dining Program. The Temporary Outdoor Dining program establishes an expedited permitting process through which restaurants are able to offer expanded outdoor dining options.

Learn More

Outdoor Dining Grant Program

The City of Worcester recognizes that outdoor dining has become critical during the pandemic for the success of our local restaurants and bars. The City of Worcester (City) has established the Outdoor Dining Grant Program to support restaurants, bars, and other food establishments on a reimbursement basis to safely expand outdoor dining options. These grant funds will assist food related businesses to enhance, expand or establish new outdoor dining options. Examples include sidewalk cafes, newly created courtyards, parklets and use of off-street parking areas.

  • Program Total Funding - $50,000
  • Funding Per Business - $2,000 maximum

Eligible Applicants

  • Owners of licensed restaurants, bars or food-related business physically located within the City of Worcester.
  • Businesses must either already have, or plan to apply for a Permanent/Temporary Extension of Premises for Outdoor Dining, or Alteration of Premises request with the Worcester License Commission.

Approved Uses of Funds

  1. Outdoor partitions or barriers for spacing (includes vehicle safety barriers).
  2. Outdoor cover (tents, gazebos, umbrellas, canopies, igloos, etc.).
  3. Outdoor heating equipment (fuel is not eligible expense).
  4. Outdoor lighting fixtures.
  5. Outdoor furniture (tables, chairs, picnic tables).
  6. Outdoor planters.

When to Apply

  • Grant Open Date: April 5, 2021 at 9 a.m.
  • Grant Close Date: April 16, 2021 at 5 p.m.
  • Applicants will be notified of their grant status by April 30.

Apply Now

Email the completed application and W-9 to Vaske Gjino at GjinoV@worcesterma.gov.

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 GjinoV@worcesterma.gov.

Retail & Restaurant Toolkit

Find helpful tips on how you can promote your business and make the most of your business reopening!

*Download and print out these helpful signs for your business!

*Speacial thanks to the World Smile Foundation and the Family of Harvey Ball for allowing use of the original Harvey Ball Smiley Face.

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.

MassHire Central Region Logo

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:

Hand Stopping Dominos from Falling

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

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