DLTA Spotlight: COVID-19 Small Business Support
Advancing Small Businesses in Arlington, Medford, Salem, Newton and Needham
District Local Technical Assistance, or “DLTA” funds, are state grants distributed among the state’s 13 Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs)—including MAPC—to provide cities and towns with money and technical staff to work on projects related to regional collaboration, economic development, zoning, and protecting the environment.
Each month, MAPC will highlight a project made possible by DLTA funding.
As COVID-19's devastating effects on small businesses became increasingly apparent in the spring and summer of 2020, MAPC used $15,000 of DLTA funding to create a Small Business Support Plan for the communities of Arlington, Medford, Salem, Newton, and Needham. This plan serves as a critical guide for these communities—and could serve as a roadmap for others on how to focus and deploy resources strategically to advance economic recovery as small businesses face an acutely uncertain and difficult future during the pandemic.
This project was done in conjunction with DLTA-funded work to create a guide for municipalities to respond to the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses. That guide can be found here.
Municipal government has a key role to play in helping small business to reopen, recover, and thrive well into the future.
MAPC's "Building a New Future Together," released on May 12, 2020, contains recommendations for how municipalities can facilitate small business reopening and recovery.
MAPC's Small Business Support Plan examines the existing conditions and key needs in Arlington, Medford, Needham, Newton, and Salem and provides recommendations for cities and towns to increase revenue for small businesses, decrease the cost of doing business, and protect public health and safety.
The planning process with these communities began in April, as MAPC’s economic development team worked with municipal staff from the Arlington, Medford, and Salem and the Executive Director of the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce to collect data on the small business landscape of each municipality. They cataloged each area’s business sizes and types and performed a key needs assessment, which included information on municipal, state, and federal level initiatives and where future work can fill in the gaps. The team also collected survey data from other municipalities and Chambers of Commerce.
In May, following the needs analyses, MAPC began drafting recommendations. While the plans are specialized to meet the needs of the individual communities, there is a lot of valuable information for small business assistance providers throughout the region.
The recommendations coalesced around three goals:
- Increasing revenue for small businesses;
- Decreasing the cost of doing business; and
- Protecting public health and safety.
The full plan was published in July 2020. You can read it here.
Since the plan’s release, the participating municipalities have implemented Shared Streets programs, updated licensing and permitting regulations, and expanded outreach efforts. The planners have shared best practices with other communities, including at the SNEAPA conference in November.
This project was only made possible through DLTA funding. Year after year, DLTA project requests exceed the available funding from the state, with requests from cities and towns often doubling the amount of funding available.
What else is MAPC doing to support small businesses? MAPC has continued to support small businesses in a variety of key ways, including through MassDOT’s Shared Streets and Spaces Program. MAPC has provided procurement and technical assistance to communities receiving grant money, to safely encourage downtown activity, especially throughout the upcoming winter months. MAPC also assisted communities with the successful submission of a regional application for microenterprise grants from the Department of Housing and Community Development, which resulted in $4.95M in funding for 23 municipalities.