City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Dana and Salvatore Defranco of Battle Grounds Coffee Co., and Rep. Brian S. Dempsey. (WHAV News photograph.)
Haverhill is receiving $60,000 to help small businesses fill empty downtown storefronts and improve the appearances of other buildings.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, flanked by representatives of MassDevelopment and state and local officials, made the announcement at a Washington Street reception Wednesday afternoon. Polito explained what she thinks is Haverhill’s formula for success.
“You have a concentration of people living in an area—not just day workers. This is full time. Nights and weekends. What do they need? Lots of restaurants—kudos to you for setting up a restaurant district. They need services. They need good coffee. They need a lot of other things. That’s why the small businesses, that are really the backbone of this downtown neighborhood, are thriving,” Polito said.
Polito acknowledged state Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, for bringing his vision for the city to the attention of state leaders. The grant announcement was made at Battle Grounds Coffee Co., one of the downtown’s newest businesses.
Of the $60,000 in Transformative Development Initiative Business Accelerator grants, Haverhill received a $25,000 Local Lift grant that it will match with $25,000 to expand an existing façade improvement program with increased design, lighting and interior services to encourage business owners to become involved with the program. The city also received a $35,000 Lease it Local grant that it will must be matched with $8,750 to provide seed funding for creative business start-ups, galleries and other microenterprises to move into vacant sections of downtown. Noah Koretz, Haverhill’s TDI fellow, explained how the grants will be used.
“One of which is specifically money for façade improvements and physical facility improvements for businesses. The other is for, what’s called, Lease It Local program. It’s essentially a way to sort to help encourage local landlords to get small, locally run, locally owned businesses into their spaces and get those businesses up and running,” explained Koretz.
MassDevelopment CEO Marty Jones explained the state’s motivations in extending the grants.
“Try some new ways to engage small businesses. We’ll see what works—some will, some won’t. We’ll take the ones that work and we’ll find a way to replicate them around the Commonwealth and use those tools in other places,” she said.
Haverhill’s grant is part of $330,000 given to eight districts across the state to support downtown improvements for business growth and job creation. Polito announced the awards after touring downtown. The TDI Small Business Accelerator Grant Program is jointly provided by the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and MassDevelopment, a quasi-public finance agency.