Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Small business grants available for downtown shops

Date: 3/6/2015

WESTFIELD – Small business again have the opportunity to get advice and extra money. The Community Development Block Grant program is back with its sixth Best Retail Practices grant program, giving Westfield businesses an opportunity for professional advice and the opportunity to apply for federal grant money.    

The program starts with a workshop presented by Christine Moynihan, a retail consultant from Retail Visioningin Cambridge, on March 12. The workshop offers advice for business owners and those looking to start businesses relating to the finer details of operations.    

Community Development Block Grant Coordinator Diana McLean said that Moynihan’s workshop covers everything from choosing paint colors to where to place merchandise.

“It really covers some things that you think would be common sense that might not be,” McLean said.

The informational workshop is open to all business owners and anyone interested in opening a business, even if they are not eligible to apply for grant funding. Those who are eligible will receive applications at the workshop.

In order to apply for up to $1,990 in grant money, McLean said that businesses must be in the downtown area – Elm Street, Main Street and North Elm/Union Avenue. Businesses must also be considered microenterprises, meaning five or fewer employees, and the business owner must have a low or moderate income. If the owner is not low or moderate income, then the business must provide a service that serves people of that income category, according to McLean.

Those accepted into the program will be visited for an in-store consultation, in which they will receive advice about how to improve their businesses. The grant money must be used to make changes that were suggested during the consultation.

In its sixth year, McLean said that this program has been successful in the past, and businesses have already showed interested in this round. Thus far, 30 businesses have been helped and $97,000 has been invested in Westfield businesses.    

“It’s a popular opportunity. I think it’s been well received,” McLean said. “I think people in the nonprofit world understand about grants and its something that they’re familiar with. It’s part of their every day life. From a small business perspective, they think it’s almost too good to be true.”

Though some business owners may think it is too good for reality, five businesses will ultimately walk away with a financial boost and business advice to help revitalize the downtown area.

Those interested in the workshop or learning more about the grant should contact McLean at or 572-6244.