NEWBURYPORT — City officials announced the new Small Business Relief Grant Program to help local businesses affected by COVID-19.

The city is able to provide up to 15 grants of up to $2,000 to qualified small businesses affected by COVID-19. Grants can be used to help address fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, lost opportunities and other working capital expenses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds for the program are provided through the state attorney general’s Small Business Relief Partnership Grant Program.

"Many of our local businesses had been shuttered for over three months due to the pandemic and those who remained open struggled through extremely difficult times,” Mayor Donna Holaday said in a press release.

“Our local businesses are an important part of our community and we are fortunate to receive funding from Attorney General Healey’s office to create this relief program that provides financial support directly to our small businesses,” Holaday said. “We hope these grants can be used to help cover rent, payroll and other expenses as they reopen and get back on their feet.”

To qualify to receive grant money, businesses must be a for-profit entity with fewer than 10 full-time equivalent employees; less than $250,000 in annual revenue; registered and in good standing, and operating in Newburyport, excluding chain or corporate franchises.

To apply, small-business owners must fill out the online application form, which will be available starting June 30 at 9 a.m. Business owners will be able to submit their applications at that time and applications can only be submitted online.

Grants will be awarded to the first 15 qualified businesses with complete applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Grants will be awarded to businesses the week of July 6.

The city is pursuing other opportunities to grant relief funds directly to small businesses affected by COVID-19. Last week, the city submitted an application for $400,000 in Community Block Development Grant funding that could be granted directly to qualified small businesses.

Holaday, in conjunction with her Economic Recovery Task Force, the Licensing Board and the City Council, has also worked to streamline the permitted process for outdoor dining to support restaurants and retailers reopening in Phase 2 of the governor's reopening plan.

Questions about the grant program can be sent by email to Finance Director Ethan Manning at emanning@cityofnewburyport.com.

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