Mayor Mitchell Announces First ARPA Investments

Relief Funding Begins with Major Expansion of Storefront Program

Mayor Jon Mitchell, elected and city officials, and neighborhood and business leaders gathered Tuesday to announce the City’s first investment of ARPA funding, in a program that offers grants up to $40,000 for small businesses to upgrade their storefronts.

The Enhanced Façade Improvement Program is designed to revitalize commercial neighborhoods, stimulate private investment and customer patronage, and preserve and beautify New Bedford’s commercial districts, from the International Marketplace of the near North End to downtown and the near South End.

The program enables eligible commercial property owners, tenants, and nonprofit organizations to receive a grant of up to $40,000 for eligible commercial façade improvements. Applicants are required to provide a 25% match of the total award. Eligible improvements include replacement or restoration of original architectural details; signs and awnings mounted to the building façade; new storefront construction within an existing building; window replacement and window framing; painting and/or residing of buildings; exterior lighting, and more.

The City has budgeted up to $1.5 million in ARPA funding for the program. It will exponentially expand previous storefront improvement programs, which have been funded by community block development grants and had a maximum award of $2,000. Prior programs also had no eligibility for nonprofits. Businesses across the city are eligible to apply for the enhanced program, provided they are in industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Today’s event is the City’s first announcement of investment under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), designed to address economic and public health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. The event follows City Council’s vote Thursday night to accept the City’s direct allotment of about $64.7 million in ARPA funds.

“ARPA funds offer our City the opportunity to emerge from the pandemic stronger than when it began. By putting money in the hands of our small businesses, we seek to accelerate their growth and the well-being of the neighborhoods in which they operate,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “When small businesses succeed, a city thrives.”

“The Enhanced Façade Improvement Program creates a grant incentive to encourage property and business owners to improve their building storefronts,” said Patrick Sullivan, director of the City’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “This investment of grant funding will go a long way to help revitalize neighborhoods, support local businesses, and improve visibility and curb appeal.”

“Initiatives like the City’s Enhanced Façade Improvement Program are directly within the wheelhouse of what was intended when President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law last spring,” City Council President Ian Abreu said. “Through this program, our community will experience an incredible transformation in many of our business districts that were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. I can’t wait to see this initiative come to fruition.”

Businesses, commercial property owners, nonprofit organizations and other eligible entities can download a program application on the City’s ARPA website:

— March 29, 2022