Businesses

City of Cambridge Small Business Relief Grant

The Cambridge Small Business Relief Grant is a special grant program providing relief to small businesses (for-profit and non-profit) and home-based businesses that are heavily impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible businesses can receive $10,000 towards their business. The program provides working capital assistance to support small businesses with payroll, rent, inventory purchases (perishable and non-perishable), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) purchases, and equipment, or other upgrades to enable them to stay open and ensure job retention after the severe interruption of business related to COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

For the purposes of this grant, a Cambridge small business is any non-franchise/chain business with 50 or fewer full-time or full-time equivalent employees at their Cambridge location.

Grant applications are available from May 9, 2022, until May 31, 2022, at 5:00 p.m. There is no guarantee that you will secure a grant nor receive the maximum amount of funds. Grant awards are based on a business’s criteria points and documented proof of negative impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant funds will be awarded and distributed after the May 31, 2022, deadline. It could take up to 6-8 weeks for a grantee to receive funds.

The grant application is now closed. 

 

More Information

I have more than one business location in Cambridge. Can I apply for each location?

If you own a business with more than one location in Cambridge, please apply once and include all your Cambridge locations. If you are awarded a grant, you will receive $10,000 which can be used across all locations.

I received a Restaurant and Nightlife Relief Grant. Can apply to this grant too?

No. If you received a Restaurant and Nightlife Relief Grant you cannot receive this grant. If you are a restaurant/café or nightlife business that missed the Restaurant and Nightlife Grant deadline, you can apply to this one.

I received a City grant in 2020 and/or 2021. Do I need to resubmit my leases, bills, etc.?

If you received a Relief, Recovery, or Winter COVID-19 Grant and your lease and bills have remained the same, you only have to submit payroll information or other documentation you should like the grant to cover. If business lease or other items have changed, please submit new documents.

Is this grant taxable?

Yes. You will receive a 1099 Form from the city.

What types of small businesses are eligible?

Cambridge based non-franchise/chain businesses that provide goods, services, and programs to the public are eligible for this grant.

Examples include:

  • Gyms, salons, barbershops, yoga studio
  • Afterschool/recreation programs
  • Retail stores and offices open to the public
  • Bed and Breakfasts
  • Travel agencies or tour companies
  • Dry cleaners
  • Event planners

When will I get my funds?

Grant funds will be awarded and distributed after the May 31, 2022, deadline. Once a business receives an award notification, it can take up to 6-8 weeks for a grantee to receive funds. Funds will be delayed if program staff do not receive the correct documentation from the business owner.

I do not have paperwork showing loss in sales. Am I still eligible?

If you do not have a profit and loss statement or sales statement, you can apply using the following:

  • 2019 and 2020 business tax returns
  • 2019, 2020, and 2021 business bank statements
  • For non-profits: documentation showing a loss of ticket or concession revenue is also sufficient.

If you feel you are not able to provide any documentation listed above, please contact Pardis Saffari at 617-349-4654 or psaffari@cambridgema.gov for a consultation.

I started my business in 2021. Can I still apply?

If you were not open in 2019 or 2020, please provide documentation, such as business plan, to show what you expected your sales to be under regular business conditions, in addition to any 2021 sales data you have.

If you feel you are not able to provide any documentation listed above, please contact Pardis Saffari at 617-349-4654 or psaffari@cambridgema.gov for a consultation. 

I am a Cambridge resident, but my business is in another City. Can I apply?

No. This grant is for businesses located in Cambridge.

Can this grant be used for personal expenses?

No, this grant is for business expenses only.

I need help applying. Can someone help me?

Yes. Please contact EDD staff at smallbizgrants@cambridgema.gov or leave a message at 617-349-4637 and someone will get back to you about scheduling an appointment. Interpretation and Translation services can be made available.

Who cannot apply to this grant program?

  • Franchise or chain businesses.
  • Cambridge businesses that have outstanding invoices/fees to the City of Cambridge.
  • Cambridge residents with businesses located outside the City of Cambridge.
  • Applicants who are not in compliance with any federal, state or local laws or regulations, including those pertaining to zoning and licensing.

What can a business use the grant for?

The grant can be used for the following business expenses paid for or will be paid for between March 3, 2021 and December 31, 2024:

  • Paying for commercial mortgage and/or rent
  • Purchase of perishable (e.g. food) or non-perishable inventory (e.g. new to-go containers)
  • Payroll
  • Utilities (e.g. commercial electric or gas bills, internet, business insurance)
  • Purchase or upgrade of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to comply with new public health guidelines, including, but not limited to outdoor heaters, air purifiers, rapid tests for employees, masks for customers and staff
  • Purchase of digital resources needed to maintain take-out and delivery services
  • Marketing items, such as a website or menus
  • Purchase of equipment related to the pandemic or recovery of the pandemic, such as items needed to reopen or to offer new services and programming

What is the application review process?

Applications will be reviewed after May 31, 2022. Applications will be ranked based on the points awarded according to the criteria process.

What is the grant criteria process?

Points will be awarded for each item achieved below.

Grant criteria points:

  • Did not receive a previous COVID-19 small business grant/loan in 2020/2021 from the City of Cambridge (1 point)
  • Business in the following industries:
    • Recreation (e.g. gym, fitness, recreational classes) - 1 point
    • Personal services (e.g. salon, dry cleaning) – 1 point
    • Tourism and event planning/production – 1 point
  • Business Ownership* (owner owns at least 50% of the business):
    • Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned (1 point)
    • Disable-owned (1 point)
    • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBTQ+) owned (1 point)
    • Women-owned (1 point)
    • Veteran-owned (1 point)
  • Businesses with that show a loss of sales more than 40% from pre-pandemic levels (1 point)
  • Have fewer than 10 full-time employees, or full-time equivalent employees, including the owner (1 point)

*For non-profits, owner can be defined as the Executive Director/President of the organization.

Will every application with a high score get a grant?

No. Regardless of the application status, due to the volume of applications received, there is no guarantee that an applicant will receive a grant.

What documents will I need to attach to my application?

  • Proof of lost profit - Cambridge business 2019, 2020 and 2021 profit and loss statements, bank statements, or other sales documents showing your business sales from 2019, 2020 and 2021. Cambridge non-profits can show proof of lost ticket or concessions revenue. If you do not have all your statements for 2021, please provide what you have.
  • Proof of bills, if requesting to use the grant for any of these items - Provide copies of recent invoices (e.g. inventory, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), digital resources needed to maintain take-out and delivery services, marketing items), utility bills (e.g. commercial electric or gas bills, internet, business insurance) or commercial mortgage and/or rent.
  • Signed lease, if requesting to use the grant for rent - If you do not have a lease, provide copies of the past three (3) month’s rent checks.
  • Proof of Payroll - Provide proof of payroll (for example, a recent pay or wage statement, bank statement, or proof of paystubs) if there are more than two employees.
  • Proof of equipment spending, if requesting to use the grant for equipment purchase - Invoices from equipment or outdoor dining purchases or estimates on items needed to be purchased.

Will an application be reviewed if it is missing documents or information?

No. If you have not provided all your documentation by May 31, 2022, 8:00 p.m. your application will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

Can I use these funds to pay for any business expense from any time?

No. These funds may only be used for business expenses between March 3, 2021 - December 31, 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions

Grant Overview – What the Grant Can Be Used For

Local small businesses can apply for assistance in one or more of the following categories. These funds may only be used for expenses incurred between March 3, 2021 - December 31, 2024.

  • Paying for commercial mortgage and/or rent
  • Purchase of perishable or non-perishable inventory
  • Payroll
  • Utilities (e.g. commercial electric or gas bills, internet, business insurance)
  • Purchase or upgrade of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to comply with new public health guidelines, including, but not limited to: air purifiers, rapid tests for employees, masks for customers and staff
  • Purchase of digital resources needed to maintain take-out and delivery services
  • Marketing items, such as a website or menus
  • Purchase equipment related to the pandemic or recovery of the pandemic, such as items needed to reopen or to offer new services and programming 

This grant cannot be used for the following:

  • construction projects
  • to pay for local, state, or federal taxes, permits, and license fees owed,
  • repayment of any previous federal or local grants/loans owed.

Businesses that are already participating in other city grant programs can still apply to the Small Business Relief Fund. Some exclusions may apply.

Grant Criteria

Please note, that even if a business meets the grant criteria, that business is not guaranteed to receive a grant due to the funding constraints of this program.

Cambridge non-franchise/chain businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are invited to apply. Businesses in recreation, personal services, and tourism are encouraged to apply due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on these industries.

Criteria points:

  • Business Ownership* (owner owns at least 50% of the business):
    • Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned (1 point)
    • Disabled-owned (1 point)
    • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBTQ+)-owned (1 point)
    • Women-owned (1 point)
    • Veteran-owned (1 point)
  • Has not received a previous COVID-19 small business grant/loan from the City of Cambridge (1 point)
  • Did not receive funding from the federal Restaurant Relief Fund or Shuttered Venue Fund (1 point)
  • Loss of sales more than 40% from pre-pandemic levels (1 point)
  • Have fewer than five (5) full-time employees, or full-time equivalent employees, including the owner (1 point)

Industries:

  • Recreation (e.g. gym, fitness, recreational classes) - 1 point
  • Personal services (e.g. salon, dry cleaning) – 1 point
  • Tourism and event planning – 1 point

*For non-profits, owner can be defined as the Executive Director/President of the organization.

Grant Guidelines & Requirements

Before you apply to the grant, please make sure you are eligible for it. This grant is federally funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and there are guidelines that the City must follow.

  1. Proof of eligibility:
    • Provide the Cambridge business 2019, 2020 and 2021 business taxes, profit and loss statements, or other sales documents showing your business sales from 2019, 2020 and 2021. You only need provide 2021 data if you were not open in 2019.
    • Cambridge Non-profits can show proof of loss revenue.
  2. Business must be a non-franchise local business with 50 or fewer full time employees and a current location within the City of Cambridge that has been in operation since March 3, 2021 or earlier.
  3. Business must be compliant with all federal, state and local laws and regulations pertaining to zoning, licensing, and permits
  4. If the business received a previous City COVID-19 grant, you must have completed all previous grant requirements, such as proof that the grant(s) were used correctly.
  5. Provide proof of payroll (for example, a recent pay or wage statement, bank statement, or proof of paystubs) if there are more than two employees.
  6. Businesses participating in the program will be required to fill out a City-conducted exit survey after using the grant funds and provide program staff proof of correct use of the grant funds. If a business does not provide proof of grant use, they may be required to return the funds to the City.

    Note: The use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose. Although cannabis businesses are permitted in the City of Cambridge, the Small Business Relief Grant is a federally-funded program, so cannabis businesses are not eligible for the program. 

Documentation Needed

Prepare these items before you apply for the grant.

  1. Provide the business 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2020, and 2021 profit and loss statements or other business sales documentation. 2021 data is only needed if you were not open in 2019.
    • If you were not open in 2019 or 2020, please provide documentation, such as a business plan, to show what you expected your sales to be under regular business conditions.
  2. Provide proof of payroll (for example, a recent pay or wage statement, bank statement, or proof of paystubs) if there are more than two employees.
  3. Prepare bills. Provide copies of recent invoices, utility bills, or lease. If you do not have a lease, provide copies of the past three (3) months’ rent checks. Make sure your utility bills or invoices include your business name and business address.
  4. Have a list of all other COVID-19 grants/loans you received.
  5. Invoices for equipment or outdoor dining purchases or estimates on items needed to be purchased. This could be an electronic invoice or receipt.

Inability to provide this documentation by the grant application deadline of May 31, 2022, will mean your application could be denied for incompleteness.

Ready to Apply?

Click here to access the online application. *Please do not use in Safari browser*

Click here to download the paper version of the grant application.

Contact smallbizgrants@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4637 to request the application in a different format or language.

Do you need assistance?

Staff are happy to answer questions and assist business owners with filling out the application. Interpretation services are available upon request.

  1. Phone: 617-349-4637 (Interpretation services are available upon request.)
  2. Email: smallbizgrants@cambridgema.gov
  3. In person: Monday-Friday, Cambridge City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway. Appointments can be made by phone at 617-349-4637 or by email at smallbizgrants@cambridgema.gov.

City of Cambridge Small Business Assistance Programs

The City of Cambridge Relief, Recovery, and Winter Grants Programs, the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund for small businesses, and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) Zero-Interest Loan program is distributing nearly $4.2 Million to Cambridge small businesses financially impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis.

View Small Business Dashboard


US Small Business Administration (SBA) Guidance

COVID-19 Resources

SBA offers several different relief options to help businesses, non-profits, and faith-based organizations recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Click here for more information on all of SBA's current programs.

Questions?

General Resources for Local Businesses

Small Business Assistance

The City of Cambridge offers a variety of workshops, programs, and resources.

View Resources

Pick It Up Cambridge

The City of Cambridge, in partnership with the local business community, is launching “Pick It Up Cambridge,” a social media and print campaign to encourage patrons to call direct and pick up their orders to help business owners retain the full value of their product and support local eateries.

Access Toolkit

Guidance for Businesses

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides resources to assist employers and workers identify COVID-19 exposure risks and help them take appropriate steps to prevent exposure and infection. See the OSHA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) topic page for the most current requirements, guidance, and tools.

View Resources
Page was posted on 3/18/2020 6:52 PM
Page was last modified on 6/2/2022 4:24 PM
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