News that four New Bedford restaurants had shuttered their doors within 11 days sent shockwaves through the community last week.

The Whaling City Diner, The Vault Music Hall, Cafe Italia, and Juice'd Cafe all closed within days of each other. New Bedford City Council President Ian Abreu reacted by urging local business owners that might be struggling to "reach out to the City Council, Mayor's Office or New Bedford Economic Development Council" before deciding to close.

New Bedford Has ARPA Money For New And Troubled Businesses
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Abreu said grant money is available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist new startups and existing small businesses.

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Last month, the City of New Bedford announced that $3.3 million in ARPA funding would go to help small businesses.

The New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) says NB100! is a new program "to promote entrepreneurship, grow local wealth, and strengthen community bonds." Qualifying participants "have an opportunity to apply for a $10,000 Kickstarter grant after completing technical assistance programming through one of our (NBEDC) SPOKE partners."

New Bedford Has ARPA Money For New And Troubled Businesses
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The NBEDC says there will be a "special emphasis on reaching women, minority, and veteran clients."

Eligible entrepreneurs must be a for-profit entity, be based within New Bedford, and be in business for no more than 24 months.

NBForward! is a new small business program "that provides resources to existing businesses to get through the challenges of the next phase of our pandemic recovery while looking toward investing in and preparing for greater future success."

New Bedford Has ARPA Money For New And Troubled Businesses
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Further details of the NBForward! program are found on NBEDC's online application portal.

NBEDC Executive Director Derek Santos told me that "Every day, the NBEDC team continues to see great opportunity for New Bedford business growth coupled with uncertainty about this uneven national recovery from the pandemic."

New Bedford Has ARPA Money For New And Troubled Businesses
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Santos said the NB100! and NBForward! programs "meet those needs for any stage business, while making them as accessible and user friendly as possible."

"Every indication is the demand for these programs will be strong," he said.

"Our small business community has continued to struggle in its rebound coming out of the pandemic," Abreu said. "There has been a robust plan put forward through ARPA funds to help them in their recovery."

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