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Small businesses owned by people of color dominate new Mass. grants programs

The personal care and beauty industry had the most recipients, followed by bars and restaurants.

Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy with Governor Charlie Baker during a press conference in Gardner Auditorium Monday during which two new small-business grants programs were discussed.
Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy with Governor Charlie Baker during a press conference in Gardner Auditorium Monday during which two new small-business grants programs were discussed.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

About 95 percent of the winners in the first round of two state grant programs to help small businesses get through the pandemic are owned by people of color, and 76 percent are owned by women.

The Baker administration unveiled the list of 1,158 winning grant recipients on Monday for two new programs overseen by the quasi-public Massachusetts Growth Capital Corp. The program was wildly oversubscribed, with more than 10,000 small businesses applying for the grants. One of the programs provides grants for up to $75,000 for businesses with 50 or fewer employees, while the other offers up to $25,000 to businesses with five or fewer workers.

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The administration made it clear that businesses owned by women, people of color, and veterans, as well as those in so-called gateway cities, would be prioritized, along with those that have not received prior federal aid.

“Those who were already at a disadvantage before the pandemic have suffered disproportionately because of the crisis,” said Mike Kennealy, Governor Charlie Baker’s economic development secretary.

The personal care and beauty industry received the most grants, with 262 recipients. The bar and restaurant sector was next, with 217. They were followed by health care (113), education (108), and retail (97).

The first round of the two programs, totaling $50.8 million, was paid for by federal COVID-19 relief funds left over from the spring. (Nearly $49 million went to grants, while the rest of the money was used to encourage applications from targeted communities, and to prevent fraud.) The state Legislature just included another $17.5 million for the two programs in the state budget for the current fiscal year, and Baker has asked lawmakers to approve another $17.5 million.


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.