New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell today announced $3.3 million in funding that will support local businesses and entrepreneurs, as part of the City’s commitment to using a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act funds to help businesses that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The funding will be distributed under two separate initiatives,” according to a press release. “NBForward!, which will provide funding to businesses negatively affected by the pandemic, and NB100!, which will focus on assisting early-stage entrepreneurs affected because of their industry or location.”

The administering of the funds will be handled by the New Bedford Economic Development Council.

“Entrepreneurs drive opportunity and growth in our economy. Positioning them for success will accelerate New Bedford’s emergence from the pandemic,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “The New Bedford Economic Development Council has a proven track record of supporting small businesses, and these two new programs will leverage their experience and expertise.

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“Connectivity is critical to help small businesses achieve success throughout the business lifecycle,” says Anthony Sapienza, President of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “From beginning to end, both NB100! and NBForward! are designed to not only provide New Bedford businesses with much-needed financial support to come out of the pandemic, but also the technical know-how necessary to remain viable and vibrant for years to come."

"No matter where someone may be in their entrepreneurial journey—whether they be just starting out or a well-established operation—in New Bedford we have a pathway available for them," he said.

NBForward! will offer at least 100 grants of up to $20,000, along with assistance with things like business planning, resource guidance and best practices, the release stated. The funds can be used for things like construction, renovation, business lease or mortgage payments, business utility payments, payroll, or insurance, among other options.

NB100! is designed to “promote entrepreneurship, grow local wealth, and strengthen community bonds by helping 100 new businesses get off the ground,” working with organizations such as EforAll, Groundwork, Co-Creative Center, New Bedford Ocean Cluster, UMass Dartmouth, Bristol Community College, and Junior Achievement. Eligible small businesses who complete that technical support program could receive $10,000 grants from the NBEDC.

It is now the seventh initiative for doling out the first half of the $64.7 million in federal COVID-19 relief money that the New Bedford City Council voted to accept back in March. Most recently, Mayor Mitchell announced that $1.2 million would be awarded to New Bedford artists and organizations that support the arts.

Other announcements have benefitted a program to upgrade business facades, housing, child care, small businesses, and $5 million to help with renovation of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center.

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