PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Baker-Polito Administration announced $140,000 in grants to three Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) districts to support downtown improvements for business growth and job creation on Thursday, Sept. 20. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash made the announcement during his remarks at the Berkshire Realtors Housing Summit, a gathering of over 150 community stakeholders, local officials, Legislators, developers, and real estate professionals.
“The Transformative Development Initiative deploys a range of tools to accelerate catalytic urban development and economic growth in the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities,” said Secretary Ash. “The grants we’re announcing today will help entrepreneurs in western Massachusetts better connect to opportunities to expand their businesses and make their downtowns more vibrant.”
TDI Local is a small grants program administered by MassDevelopment, the state’s quasi-public economic development authority, to support local market development in TDI Districts across the Commonwealth. Today’s announcement marks the second round of this competitive grant program; the first round, which took place in FY17, included awards made to 12 projects in nine TDI Districts, with a total of $354,000 awarded.
“The Transformative Development Initiative local grant program brings meaning to the phrase ‘a little bit goes a long way,’” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “By providing small grants to help entrepreneurs open shop, upgrade their storefront, or increase foot traffic, we are working to accelerate local business development in Gateway City neighborhoods and set the stage for follow-on investment.”
The City of Pittsfield will use this Local Lift grant to continue its Storefront Improvement Enhancement Program, which was launched as a pilot with a $30,000 grant in FY17. The program supports the existing businesses and storefronts in the Tyler Street TDI District, many of which need façade improvements to enhance visibility and attractiveness and ensure accessibility. The City will match grant funds with an additional $30,000.
“I am grateful to the Baker-Polito administration for continuing to support small businesses in the City of Pittsfield,” said Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer. “Thanks to the Storefront Improvement Program, several business owners in the Tyler Street TDI District have been able to revitalize their businesses. The additional grant funding will extend this important resource to more businesses in our community, allowing enhancements that benefit both the property owners and our community at-large.”
"We are pleased to receive this grant to continue our work in the Tyler Street TDI,” said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier. “This investment, matched with City dollars makes a big difference by allowing businesses to do the small things, such as upgrade their storefronts and install lighting, which improves the look and the safety of the neighborhood. It is so exciting to see Tyler Street begin to return to its vibrancy and it is gratifying knowing that it's because we are all working together."
The program requires awardees to demonstrate a competitive match and makes grants through four categories:
- Local Lift, to enhance storefront improvement programs;
- Lease it Local, to provide lease subsidies and small build-out grants to businesses opening in vacant storefronts;
- Find it Local, to increase businesses’ visibility, marketing, lighting, and wayfinding; and
- A unique program category designed by the applicant to support small businesses within their district.
TDI Local funding is awarded as block grants to representative not-for-profit organizations within the TDI Partnerships. The block grants, matched with local funding, are distributed to sub-grantees through locally developed programs designed to suit those individual communities’ needs and priorities.
About the Transformative Development Initiative:
MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) is a program for Gateway Cities designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts. The program works with cross-sector partnerships to engage community members in actionable planning, implement local economic development initiatives, and spur further public and private investment.
Other TDI Small Business Acceleration Grant Awards include:
Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce/SPARK - $35,000
The Chamber will use funds to continue support for a unique program it developed last year with SPARK, a city initiative that supports start-ups and small business development by providing small grants that fund costs needed to open or sustain a business. This program—the SPARK TDI Startup and Buildout Grant program—complements existing microenterprise funds with more restrictive income requirements and has encouraged entrepreneurs to fill vacant space within the TDI District. This grant is an extension of a $40,000 grant the Chamber was awarded in FY17, and the newly awarded funds will be matched with an additional $35,000.
City of Springfield (Lease It Local) - $20,000
The City of Springfield will use these grant funds to extend its Lease It Local program, launched as a pilot with a $30,000 grant in FY17 to fill vacant storefronts. This program provides a rental subsidy for early-stage businesses that occupy vacant ground-floor storefronts for three or more months. The City will match grant funds with an additional $10,000.
City of Springfield (Find It Local) - $55,000
Springfield’s TDI partnership will use grant funds to expand an existing architectural lighting program, launched by the local Business Improvement District, and an existing wayfinding program, supported by the City. The partnership will add signage and lighting in and around the TDI District to draw visitors to the district and provide additional visibility and security for pedestrians in the district. The City will match grant funds with an additional $26,500.