PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Daniel Bianchi will ask the City Council to create a Small Business Fund.
Bianchi frequently talked of the need for a fund to help small businesses over the last two mayoral campaigns, pledging to use GE funds to provide more opportunities for local ventures struggling because of the recent economic downturn.
The fund would provide $500,000 a year in grants and loans to eligible businesses. A statement from Bianchi's office said the fund is designed to jump-start economic development among existing businesses that have potential for expansion and job creation.
"Small businesses are the backbone of Pittsfield's economy," the mayor said in the statement, referring to the approximately 1,400 city businesses with fewer than 50 employees. "In this difficult lending economy, many lack the resources to obtain financing from traditional institutions, preventing them from taking strategic steps toward growth and increasing their work force."
The funding is targeted to address the greatest areas of need identified by the city's Department of Community Development and the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corp. Funding for the program will come from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund, formerly known at the GE Economic Development Fund.
"Funding for technical assistance, working capital and capital investments are three critical areas for small business owners to succeed," said Bianchi, formerly the city's director of Administration and Finance. He said commercial lending isn't sufficient, meaning small businesses have difficulty ramping up for large customers, can't afford consultants on improvements or make expansions. "The Small Business Fund is designed to help owners meet these critical needs."
Applications would go through the mayor's office to PERC for review and recommendations. The DCD will aid business owners in applying and administer the program but the mayor would have the final word.
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I'm sure the mayor's heart is in the right place but what happens with programs like these is, that there are winners (people deemed worthy and get the money) and losers (not worthy). And unfortunately its usually based on who you know, not what are you bringing to the community.
Why not lessen the restrictions associated with starting a business in pittsfield? This wouldn't cost a dime and it would apply to everyone equally!
A better idea - how about making the taxes a little better in Pittsfield - commercial tax rate is INSANE and bleeding the local small business.
Our small bldg (3500 sq ft) in pittsfield costs us almost $12,000 per year in taxes - and we are just barely getting by - and how does Walmart get away with only paying $28,000 intaxes when they should be paying a couple hundered thousand.
If pittsfield was serious about business growth they would get rid of the crazy high commercial tax rate - the gravy train ended with GE leaving and they need to realize this.
I think its time to look at the situation differently. I think its a great idea for small business to get some of the GE money. This money was put aside for large corporations, like GE, to come into Pittsfield and set up shop. I personally think that idea is old and dated. They are not coming and if they do- they already have enough working capital to finance the move, get set up, and do business.
Do we need another "Workshop Live"? No we don't. They came here wasted a lot of money on an idea that in know way could be successful with the amount of "freebee guitar lessons" on the net and when the money ran out so did they.
These loans/ grants could be very useful to small business. Right now the only grants that are available here in the city are professional development. These grants are matching so that you can pay an accountant, business adviser, or other professional to tell you how to grow your business. In my opinion these are useless to most businesses. We need hard capital to pay for employees, training, equipment, and rents etc...
Why is it we keep giving help to Walmart and other big box stores to come here and completely ignore the small guys whom are the backbone!
I have been in business for nearly 14 years and have NEVER received any free money, tax breaks or hands extended in my direction. Nor am I someone who is in the "connected" group that has been suggested. If the Mayor does this right, it will be a fair chance for anyone with a solid business plan, that is proven over a minimum of 3 years to get a leg up for once!
Good Job Mr Bianchi thank you for thinking about the local small businesses!