Emergency CDBG grants available for small businesses

Community Development Director Peter J. Miller (THE WESTFIELD NEWS PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – The city announced this week that emergency business assistance grants are available through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
Director of Community Development Peter J. Miller said Westfield is receiving $216,000 from the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act.” Miller said the majority of the funds will be spent on small business assistance, with approximately $30,000 for public service programs that are providing meals and other emergency needs.
This CDBG grant is in addition to and separate from the annual allocation of $360,000 that the city typically spends on infrastructure projects, small business assistance, and social service programs. Miller said he also has $20,000 remaining from last year’s allocation that he will add to the emergency funds.

Mayor Donald F. Humason, Jr. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Mayor Donald F. Humason Jr. said the emergency grant is a departure from what the city usually does with the money. “Typically, CDBG grants are used for business promotion. These are to help keep small business alive,” Humason said, adding, “To the extent that the city is able to be helpful and buy them some time, we’re going to try to keep businesses afloat and people employed.”

Miller said the CARES Act funds may be used for rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, inventory payments or monthly debt, all of which are due even if a business is closed, or for business payroll. He said on Monday that in the three days since the program was announced, he had received 38 requests for money, and everyone who called seemed to be eligible.
Local businesses can qualify in one of two ways- first, if the business has five or less employees and the business owner resides in a low-or-moderate income household; or second, if the business commits to retaining an employment position for an individual who lives in a low-or-moderate income household for a one-year period.
Miller said the grants will range from $2,000 to $10,000 and will be available soon after applications, which are available at, are approved.
“People need to understand, there are some requirements to get it, and they need to follow through with those or pay it back. If they meet the requirements, it’s a grant. If they can’t, it might need to be returned,” Miller said, adding that CDBG is a program of the Housing and Urban Development.
Regarding the requirement to commit to retaining jobs for low to moderate income employees. Miller said the funds can’t duplicate the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds, and businesses can’t apply for the same thing to different programs. He said if they’re going to apply to PPP for payroll, they should ask for CDBG for rent or utilities.
The program also requires a public hearing, which Miller hopes to combine or run back to back with the hearing for the annual CDBG program, already scheduled for April 22 at 6 p.m. The meetings will be held remotely and aired on Channel 15.
“We’ve had a major hit to our economy at every level, that is certainly having an effect on small businesses here in town. This is near-term help with obligations so they can survive in the long term,” Humason said.

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