Cambridge launches $2.5 million small business relief package | News

The City of Cambridge announced a $2.5 million restaurant and nightlife relief grant scheme for businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this month.

The program will award $10,000 grants to eligible businesses, prioritizing those owned by people of color, women, and other historically marginalized groups, as well as those that have not received previous grants. .

The American Rescue Plan Act will fund the rewards, which will be available to “local non-franchised cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues (e.g., movie theaters, performance halls, galleries, entertainment promoters),” according to a press release announcing the program. Cambridge has received $88.1 million in ARPA funding to distribute for local economic recovery purposes.

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui praised the economic relief effort in the press release.

“The uncertainty of the past two years has made operations difficult for restaurants and nightlife venues,” Siddiqui wrote. “These grants, which will prioritize some of our hardest-hit businesses, will help restaurants and nightlife venues that have a long way to go.”

Theodora M. “Theo” Skeadas ’12, executive director of small business advocacy group Cambridge Local First, said the effort to support businesses is entirely justified.

“These are companies that are historically under-resourced compared to their more advantaged peers and have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, Skeadas said. “I applaud their efforts to provide additional resources to business owners and businesses hardest hit by the pandemic and all the challenges it entails.”

The grant’s focus on restaurants and nightlife operations will extend Covid-19 relief to organizations that may have been excluded from previous federally funded grant efforts.

Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale wrote in a press release that Cambridge’s nightlife recovery is “critical for our city.”

“Cambridge’s restaurants and nightlife venues are a vital part of our community and these areas have been among the hardest hit by this pandemic,” he wrote.

Kari Kuelzer, owner of Harvard Square restaurant and bar Grendel’s Den, said the grants announced were a small step in the right direction.

“When you’re at the scale of a business like Grendel’s, most city programs only provide a sort of drop in the bucket of support. They barely pay a week of your rent,” she said. “It’s been a really tough road. I think every little bit counts. »

Zina Thompson, owner of Zina’s Hairdressing and a member of a citywide advisory committee for Black, Indigenous and Business People of Color, said Cambridge is doing an “incredible job of supporting businesses “.

“They came to help us at such a crucial time,” Thompson said. “It’s a good thing for younger generations to see how minorities can succeed in this world.”

The Cambridge Community Development Department plans to offer more relief programs in the coming months, according to its spokeswoman Brianna Garcia.

“The City will continue to find ways to support our local businesses as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis and the community’s economic recovery,” Garcia wrote in an emailed statement.


—Editor Katherine M. Burstein can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kmburstein1.

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