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Cambridge Small Business Winter COVID-19 Grant

caution sign The information on this page may be outdated as it was published 3 years ago.

The City of Cambridge announced the availability of a new grant program that can provide Cambridge small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with short-term working capital assistance. The new grant will be funded by $628,000 of CARES Act funding, adding to the $3.6 million of small business aid previously provided through CARES Act/CDBG funding and the Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund/Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Small Business Winter COVID-19 Grant Program will help Cambridge’s U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-eligible for-profit retail, food, personal services, and creative businesses with grants up to $6,000 per brick-and-mortar business. The program provides short-term working capital assistance to support businesses with inventory purchases (perishable and non-perishable), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) purchases or upgrades, and rent payments to enable businesses to stay open and ensure the retention of jobs after the severe interruption of business related to COVID-19.

“Our small business community is a vital and valued part of our City and the local economy,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “As we have done throughout the pandemic, the City will continue to look for ways to support local businesses. I hope this new $628,000 in funding will assist small business owners with their short-term working capital expenses.”

“Now more than ever, our small businesses need us. We know there is an immediate and urgent need to help businesses as quickly as possible in order for them to survive the final stretch of this pandemic and this upcoming winter season,” said Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. “I’m hopeful that this additional funding provides some relief to the small businesses we cherish in Cambridge.”

The grant application period is now closed. Applications were available from December 15, 2020 until January 8, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. EST. There is no guarantee that a business owner will receive a grant nor receive the maximum amount of funds. Grant funds will be awarded and distributed after the January 8, 2021 deadline.

The City is offering phone office hours, in-person appointments, and other resources to help businesses who need assistance in applying to the grant. For more information about HUD-eligibility, grant criteria, and/or the application, please contact edd@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4654.

Grant Overview

Grant applicants may apply for one or more of these eligible types of working capital assistance. Businesses that have received Relief/Recovery Grants may be limited to what can be funded due to federal funding restrictions.

  • 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 plexiglass, outdoor heaters, air purifiers, masks and anti-bacterial pumps for customers, and development of new designated pick up stations for customers.
  • Purchase of digital resources needed to establish or enhance an existing business online, including but not limited to website upgrades to better assist with online sales or delivery features.

Other items may be approved as determined by city and HUD guidelines. This grant cannot be used for any construction-related work for your business (e.g. painting, electrical, plumbing, or carpentry), purchase of new equipment, or payment of past bills owed.

Businesses that are already participating in other city grant programs, can still apply to the Winter COVID-19 Grant Program. Some exclusions may apply.


Before applying for the grant, please review eligibility criteria. This grant is federally funded and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has strict eligibility requirements that the city must follow. There are three ways a business can be eligible:

  1. Your brick and mortar business in a Cambridge Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy area. OR
  2. Your home is in a Cambridge Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy area and you own a brick and mortar business in Cambridge. OR
  3. You are a micro-enterprise business owner. This means that your Cambridge business has 5 or fewer full-time employees (including the owner) and the business owner’s household income falls within low-moderate income levels.

Click here to check your business's eligibility for the program.

Please note that HUD eligibility has changed since June 2020 when the Relief and Recovery Grants were offered. Not sure if your business or home is in an NRS area? Not sure about income-levels? Please contact staff at edd@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4654 to confirm your eligibility or to set up an appointment to discuss.

Who is not eligible for this program:

  • Cambridge residents with businesses located outside the City of Cambridge
  • Home-Based businesses. Cambridge home-based business owners are encouraged to check out additional small business programs here.
  • Non-profit organizations

Grant Guidelines & Requirements

  1. Applicants must meet the HUD Eligibility Requirements in order to apply and participate in the Small Business Winter COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program. Click here to check your eligibility. If you are not sure if you are eligible, please contact staff at edd@cambridgema.gov to confirm.
  2. Applicants must be compliant with all State and local laws and regulations pertaining to zoning, licensing, and permits.
  3. Relief and Recovery Grantees must have completed all previous grant requirements, such as proof of Relief and Recovery grant use.
  4. Applicants must be a brick and mortar retail, restaurant, personal services, or creative for-profit business that has been adversely affected by COVID-19.
  5. A business must have a DUNS number (click here to register for one or contact edd@cambridgema.gov for questions)
  6. Copies of your business expenses bills/quotes that you want the grant to cover.
  7. If you are income-eligible, you will need to provide two (2) years of personal tax returns. 

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 Winter COVID-19 Grant is a program federally funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, therefore cannabis businesses are not eligible for the program.

Grant Criteria

These criteria are in line with HUD-requirements and the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Comprehensive Plan. Please note, that even a business meets the grant criteria that business is not guaranteed to receive a grant due to funding constraints of this program.

Your brick and mortar for-profit retail, restaurant, personal service, or creative business must be HUD eligible (required). Once your business is confirmed HUD eligible, the following criteria will be reviewed:

  • Did not receive Mayor's Disaster Relief Small Business Grant/Loan, Relief or Recovery Grants offered through the City of Cambridge (2 points)
  • Business Ownership:
    • Women owned (1 point)
    • Minority owned (1 point)
  • Type of business:
    • Brick and mortar, local, for-profit retail, restaurant, and personal services (e.g. hair salon or massage) business open to the public (4 points)
    • Brick and mortar, local, for-profit business that is open for appointment or special services (e.g., medical services, insurance, real estate, day care) that are open to the public (1 point)

How to prepare before you apply

  1. Make sure your business is eligible. If you are income-eligible, prepare two (2) years of personal tax returns and attach the returns to your application. 
  2. You have a DUNS number for your business. The DUNS number is a nine-digit number, issued to each business location in the D&B database, having a unique, separate, and distinct operation for the purpose of identifying them. It is required for all federal grants. If you are unsure if you have a DUNS number for your business, please contact staff at edd@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4654. You can also apply for one here. Registration of a DUNS number is free.
  3. A copy of your lease or if you do not have a lease, at least three (3) months of previous month’s rent checks (for new applicants only)
  4. Pictures or copies of the items you would like the grant to cover. This can include:
    1. Utility bills
    2. Invoices from suppliers
    3. Payroll statements
    4. Images/prices of PPE equipment you intend to purchase
    5. Information and estimate of cost on what e-commerce updates you will making to your business website. 

For More Information

  1. Phone: 617-349-4654 (Interpretation services are available upon request.)
  2. Email: edd@cambridgema.gov 
Page was posted on 12/14/2020 5:42 PM
Page was last modified on 7/24/2023 11:14 PM
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