Boston has distributed about $4 million to help small businesses amid the unprecedented novel coronavirus pandemic, authorities said Wednesday.
The funding is free cash to more than 1,100 businesses in the city that have been affected by closures, policies, or revenue loss stemming from the COVID-19 public health crisis, officials said. The small business relief fund was designed to disburse grants that can be used to address rent, fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities, and other working capital expenses, according to Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office.
All told, $7.5 million — a mix of city, federal, and private funding — has been made available to help small businesses in the city. Of the businesses that have received fiscal aid through the fund, 95 percent have 15 or fewer employees, 52 percent are owned by people of color, 49 percent are women-owned, and 46 percent are immigrant-owned, according to city officials. Businesses in every city neighborhood received funding, according to Walsh’s office.
“I’ve said it many times: small businesses are the heartbeat of our economy, and they provide residents with the services they depend on every day,” said Walsh in a statement.
He continued, “Through the small business relief fund we have been proud to support Boston’s small businesses with a swift and direct infusion of funds through a fiscally responsible and equitable system that will help businesses stay open, pay employees, and strengthen our local business districts.”
Ramon Zapata, of the AlbertStyle Barbershop in Dorchester, was among those to thank city authorities for aid made available through the fund, saying in a statement “this gesture has made me feel part of a community.”
Kandace Cummings, of Anita Kurl Salon in the South End, was also thankful.
“I’ve strengthened my faith in this city because of this experience,” she said in a statement — provided by the city.
Boston has also created a new platform to help businesses source the required personal protective equipment, known as PPE, and cleaning supplies as the local economy starts to reopen. The page includes a list of local suppliers of pandemic necessities, information on the state’s vendor database, and partner groups helping to connect businesses with vendors, according to authorities.
During the pandemic, Boston has weathered more than 12,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 591 deaths as of Wednesday.