BOSTON – Monday, October 2, 2023 – Today Mayor Michelle Wu announced the Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion is now accepting applications for the second round of SPACE Grant recipients, providing up to $200,000 in funding to individual businesses to open a new storefront. The SPACE Grant program aims to revitalize Boston’s Downtown and neighborhoods post-pandemic, fill vacant storefronts with vibrant small businesses, and help close the racial wealth gap. In this second round of the program, up to 20 businesses will be selected to receive funding. The deadline to submit an application is November 10 at 5:00 p.m. This summer, the City announced 24 entrepreneurs that together received about $2.8 million in funding for the first round of the program.
“Our small businesses represent the vibrancy and diversity of Boston and our communities,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Since launching the SPACE Grant program, we’ve felt the outsized impact of supporting entrepreneurs who were eager to be located Downtown and filling vacant commercial spaces, but didn’t have the extra capital to make it happen. In this next round of funding, we’re excited to help another group of business owners find long-term success in locations throughout Boston.”
The SPACE (Supporting Pandemic Affected Community Enterprises) Grant program is funded by a $9 million investment from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and will support both entrepreneurs looking to open their first brick and mortar storefront business as well as current small businesses in Boston looking to expand to new locations within the City. There will be an emphasis on businesses looking to locate Downtown, but entrepreneurs with a preference for any neighborhood within the City of Boston are encouraged to apply. SPACE Grants will prioritize helping Boston small businesses that were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes but is not limited to arts and entertainment; childcare; fitness, recreation, wellness; food service and production; repair and maintenance; restaurants; and retail.
“The SPACE Grant program represents one example of how our Office is bringing foot traffic back to Downtown, closing the racial wealth gap, and overall making our City a more enjoyable place to live and visit,” said Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion Segun Idowu. “This program taps into the talent already in Boston, providing not just funding but wrap-around, long-term technical assistance for continued success. I encourage any interested small business owners to apply.”
“Boston deserves a city with thriving storefronts in all of its neighborhoods,” said City Councilor Brian Worrell. “The SPACE Grant has proven its success with women and black and brown business owners, which is why it’s so important to see this latest round of funding offered. Entrepreneurial opportunities that are boosted by these grants can lead to more jobs and economic development that will lift up every corner of this city.”
The SPACE Grant program will provide grants of up to $200,000 over a three-year period to subsidize rents, upfront capital costs, and necessary infrastructure to help local, small, diverse businesses seeking to fill vacant storefronts. The City will work with technical assistance providers as part of the Small Business Technical Assistance Program to help business owners with business support such as developing financial projections and budgets, business planning, lease negotiation, and support with marketing strategy to help ensure long-term success in addition to direct financial assistance. Additionally, SPACE Grantees will receive free one-year memberships to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM). Grantees will also be granted a 2-year membership to the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
Businesses selected for a SPACE Grant will have strong business plans, experience in their industry, and will be ready to expand to their first brick-and-mortar storefront or second location.
The SPACE Grant program was first announced at the end of 2022, following the release of the City’s Downtown Revitalization Plan. Recipients in the first round of funding ranged from daycares to salons to eateries. Of the business owners that received grants for the launch of the program, 75 percent are minority-owned and more than 60 percent are women-owned. A full list of the recipients can be found here. A third and final application for SPACE Grants will be available in Spring 2024.
“Receiving the SPACE Grant created a special opportunity for Flourish & Foundry to open our first brick and mortar location the right way. We feel so supported by the Mayor’s Office with access to a network providing us with legal and insurance services, navigating the complexity of opening a new retail location, and building meaningful relationships with other grantees and organizations,” said Marcus Hamblin and Sarah Marchione, co-owners of Flourish and Foundry, a recipient of the SPACE Grant program who will be opening on Tremont Street. “It feels like a collective effort which helps express how important community is to us.”
“The SPACE Grant program has been a world changing experience for REVAMP Training,” said Jeremy Colon, the Co-Founder of Revamp Training, a SPACE Grant recipient. “The grant has made it possible for me and my team to expand operations from a 600 square foot space to a 2500 square foot space and create a one of a kind fitness studio experience that will serve our clients and respective community to come. The dream of servicing, impacting, and making a positive push for better health and fitness is possible to the residents of Dorchester and Greater Boston because of this Grant.”
The City received over 350 applications for the first round of funding earlier this year. Entrepreneurs who applied but did not receive funding in the first round and want to apply again can do so with a streamlined application. All applications and information about the SPACE Grant program can be found at boston.gov/space-grant. Applications are available in multiple languages.
“The Wu Administration’s SPACE program has already made a significant contribution to Downtown’s revitalization as the first leases have been signed and companies founded by local entrepreneurs will soon fill our vacant storefronts,” said Michael Nichols, President of the Downtown Boston BID. “The number of vacant storefronts Downtown has been reduced by 22% from this time one year ago and we eagerly anticipate the second application period bringing even more new retailers into the neighborhood to continue driving economic vitality in Boston’s Central Business District.”
The Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion will be hosting virtual office hours from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. every Friday until November 3rd for anyone with questions about the application. The Office is holding an in-person info session in collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration on October 10th at 9:30 a.m.
Application deadline: November 10, 2023
Grantees chosen: An application review process will take place from November-December. Grantees will be notified by the end of January 2024.
- Applicants must meet the following criteria to be considered for a SPACE Grant
- Business must be incorporated in a Qualified Census Tract OR one of the prioritized business industries:
- food service and production, restaurants
- repair and maintenance and laundry services (i.e., laundromats, dry cleaning)
- art, entertainment, creative economy, and
- fitness, wellness, and recreation.
- Business must have fewer than twenty-five (25) employees (not including the business owner).
- Business owners must provide proof of a Boston business address (e.g., a signed lease, business permit / license / title, utility bill in which the business is named directly, or other home office documentation).
- Business and business owners must be in good-standing with the City of Boston.
- Business must provide a copy of its up to date Business Certificate.