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TALKING POINTS

State offers a new round of pandemic relief grants

Governor Charlie Baker visited Panela restaurant in Lowell in May 2021 to talk about grants that are helping small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.Julia Malakie/Pool

SMALL BUSINESS

State offers a new round of pandemic relief grants

The Baker administration on Wednesday launched a $75 million round of pandemic relief grants for struggling small businesses. This initiative is similar to an effort that distributed more than $700 million to 15,000-plus businesses across the state earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, under the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation’s oversight. Businesses with two to 50 employees, and up to $2.5 million in annual revenue, can apply for grants of up to $75,000 in this new round, to pay for a variety of business expenses. The Baker administration is setting aside $25 million for businesses that did not qualify for previous MGCC grants, and $50 million for businesses that reach underserved or economically disadvantaged markets, or businesses that are owned by women, people of color, veterans, individuals with disabilities, or members of the LGBTQ+ community. The latest round was made possible by a $4 billion package passed in the fall by the state Legislature to allocate a significant portion of the state’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and a state budget surplus. Governor Charlie Baker unveiled the new round of grants at an event on Wednesday in Brockton at the Luanda Restaurant & Lounge, a previous MGCC grant recipient. — JON CHESTO

AUTOMOTIVE

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Ford recalling Mustangs over backup camera problem

Ford is recalling more than 330,000 Mustangs in the United States to fix backup camera displays that go blank or become distorted. The recall covers cars from the 2015 to 2017 model years. Documents posted Wednesday by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say the rear-view camera wiring can become loose or damaged, causing the problem. Ford said in documents that it knows of two minor crashes and no injuries due to the problem. Dealers will repair the deck lid wiring harness and possibly replace the camera. Notices will be mailed to owners starting March 7. They’ll get another letter when parts are ready. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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AUTOMOTIVE

Stellantis had a stellar year

Automaker Stellantis said Wednesday that it made 13.4 billion euros ($15.2 billion) in its first year after it was formed from the merger of FiatChrysler Automobiles and PSA Group and would pay out record profit-sharing checks to unionized US workers. The earnings nearly tripled profits compared with its pre-merger existence as two separate companies, as the maker of Jeep, Opel, and Peugeot vehicles exploited cost efficiencies from combining the businesses. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

INTERNATIONAL

Germany to raise minimum wage

Germany’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved raising the country’s minimum wage to 12 euros ($13.60) per hour in October, making good on a key pledge in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s election campaign last year. Germany has had a national minimum wage since 2015. It was introduced at the insistence of Scholz’s center-left Social Democrats, who at the time were junior partners in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. Scholz has long argued for a hike to 12 euros and made it a key plank of his campaign for Germany’s election in September, which his party won narrowly. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TRAVEL

Heathrow lost more than $5b due to COVID

London Heathrow airport’s losses from two years of coronavirus disruption swelled to 3.8 billion pounds ($5.2 billion), leaving its finances hanging on a summer travel rebound and the go-ahead from regulators to raise prices. The UK hub had a loss of 1.8 billion pounds last year — narrowing slightly from 2020 — after passenger numbers slumped to the lowest since 1972, Heathrow said in an earnings statement Wednesday. Europe’s busiest airport before the pandemic, Heathrow was the region’s only major hub to see traffic drop again last year as its long-haul markets remained shackled by travel curbs. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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REAL ESTATE

Fewer people seeking home loans as mortgage rates climb

A gauge of US home loan applications fell last week to its lowest level since the end of 2019, indicating higher mortgage rates are becoming a greater headwind for the housing market. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index slumped 13.1 percent in the week ended Feb. 18 to 466.4, the Washington-based group said Wednesday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

TECHNOLOGY

Microsoft expands cloud security product to Google

Microsoft is expanding its product for finding and monitoring security weak spots in cloud-computing to include rival Google’s Cloud Platform. Microsoft Defender for Cloud will include support for Google Cloud starting Wednesday, three months after adding support for Amazon’s market leading products. Microsoft, which sells the rival Azure, used open programming interfaces to hook into its competitors’ products, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services and provide its cybersecurity services. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

FISHERIES

A Maine legislative committee has voted against a proposal to create a legal defense fund to help the state’s lobster fishing industry fight new restrictions. The Maine Legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources voted against the idea on Tuesday. The fund would have been designed to help the industry challenge rules and regulations intended to protect the North Atlantic right whale. Republican Representative William Faulkingham, a commercial lobsterman, proposed the idea. It would have redirected fees and surcharges the state uses to manage the lobster fishing industry. He said he would bring back the proposal with a new approach. Some members of the industry balked at the idea because the state already relies on the fees to help keep the lobster industry strong. Maine’s lobster industry is by far the largest in the country. The right whales number less than 340 and they are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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SERVICES

Grubhub entering rapid delivery race

Grubhub is launching a new rapid delivery service, joining rival DoorDash in the competitive race to get products to people’s doors in record time. Grubhub is teaming up with quick commerce startup Buyk to offer grocery and convenience items as well as Buyk’s private label products from Grubhub’s marketplace with delivery promised in 15 minutes or less. The service will start in more than 30 locations in New York and Chicago and Buyk, which employs couriers on a full-time basis, will handle picking, packing, and delivery of orders, the companies said Wednesday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Target to offer Starbucks coffee at curbside pickups

Target asked shoppers how it could improve its curbside-pickup option, and their response was clear: We want coffee. To that end, the retailer will start offering Starbucks products later this year for customers of its “Drive Up” service. A test is likely to begin this fall in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis and a second city that executives are still choosing. That will be followed by a broader rollout. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

HOME IMPROVEMENT

Lowe’s, like Home Depot, had a good fourth quarter

Lowe’s Cos., the nation’s second-largest home improvement chain behind Home Depot, offered an upbeat annual outlook after reporting strong fiscal fourth-quarter results that showed a still sizzling housing market. The report, released Wednesday, follows a robust quarterly report from Home Depot. Home improvement stores have been busy during the pandemic as people working from home took on new projects. Many also moved into new homes with more space for a home office. A high inventory of aging homes has also helped to propel home owners to fix up their houses. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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