Beginning in May and extending into July, twenty-three Gardner businesses have received a combined total of nearly $300,000 in grants through Gardner’s Microenterprise Assistance Program. Funding for the program was made available under the Community Development Block Grant Administration, and distribution was done through the City’s Community Development and Planning Department.
“I am very happy to see how successful this program was,” said Gardner Mayor Michael Nicholson. “This is a program that was first brought up when I was still campaigning for Mayor last year, so to be able to see the impact that this first round of funding has already had on our business community is great.”
In order to be eligible for funds, businesses needed to have 5 or fewer employees, and have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as required by the Community Development Block Grant Program administered by the State’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
“Our local businesses are the ones who sponsor our youth sports, school programs, community events and more. When we needed them, they were there for us and now was our turn to return the favor,” continued Mayor Nicholson.
Patti Bergstrom, the owner of The Velvet Goose clothing store in Downtown Gardner, was one of the recipients, and spoke about the grant’s impact on her business: “The past year and a half have been extremely difficult. The financial assistance provided by the Microenterprise Grant Program covered some of our losses from when our store was closed, or our hours reduced, or our capacity was limited, and was crucial to our moving forward. The issues we were facing aren’t gone, but at The Velvet Goose we are in a better position to face these challenges because of the assistance we received.”
Even with the significant contributions to Gardner businesses, the funding of the Microenterprise Assistance Program have yet to be exhausted. Over $77,000 in funds still remain. Qualifying businesses still have the opportunity to be reimbursed for pandemic losses. Those interested should contact the City’s Economic Development Coordinator, Jessica Deroy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaking on behalf of the City Council, Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas said "The grant program has been a great resource for microenterprise businesses in Gardner. I'm pleased that our Community Development & Planning Department recognized and responded to their need for assistance with this program. Over the past year, the awards from this program have provided much needed support these businesses deserve, and will continue to do so with its remaining funds."
Mayor Nicholson has announced that the City is currently exploring ways to utilize funding from the American Recovery Plan Act to help create a local grant program for businesses with more than five employees and the guidelines for this grant program will be announced at a later date.
Grant Amount Awarded
Muscle Works Gym
Sharp Image Inc.
Parker Glass LLC
Just Dance! Performing Arts Center
John's Sport Shop
Taco Rey Coliman
The Velvet Goose
White Dog Printing
Double D's Performance
Out Back Laundry LLC
Anne's Bridal & Tux
Prestige Barber Shop
Parker Smoke Shop
Strands Hair Salon
Fred’s Auto Body and Glass
Gene's Service Center Inc