Baker’s chief economic officer touts federal funds to Dot, Mattapan shuts down

Last week, Gov. Economic Development Chief Charlie Baker stopped by Dorchester and Mattapan as part of an effort to tout the administration’s $ 2.9 billion proposal to help the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Mike Kennealy, who oversees housing and economic development, tours small businesses and downtowns across Bay State.

Funds are available for Massachusetts through the US Federal Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Baker is looking to spend $ 350 million on downtown development and reinvestment. About $ 1 billion is spent on housing.

“It doesn’t mean people are completely out of the woods,” he said of the pandemic. “If you want to see economic damage, look at our city centers. “

In Dorchester, Kennealy walked 50Kitchen on Dorchester Ave. before a panel discussion at Blarney Stone in Fields Corner. Earlier Tuesday (August 10), he stopped at America’s Food Basket on Cummins Highway in Mattapan, as well as Frugal Furniture on Blue Hill Ave.
“We are here to listen and learn,” he said.

The federal government has handed Massachusetts nearly $ 5.3 billion in pandemic relief, and state lawmakers have formed committees to determine how to spend it.

They have their own listening sessions, some this fall, and they’re pushing for a slower timeline than Baker. The federal government wants the money to be spent by the end of 2026.

Dorchester State Representative Dan Hunt, chairman of the House Committee on Federal Stimulation and Census Oversight, said he was pleased to see Baker administration officials seeking advice from members public.

“The Chamber is committed to putting in place a strong public process,” he said.

Kennealy said he heard from business owners worrying about whether they could continue to operate. “These small businesses are the fabric of our communities,” he said. “They are key employers, they employ our citizens, they serve their customers.”

During the pandemic, government financial support focused on the survival and protection of employee paychecks. A year later, according to Kennealy, problems that had already surfaced before the pandemic resurfaced. “There has always been a problem with access to capital for small businesses. So we are thinking about how we can fill some of these gaps.

Businesses are also keen to do more online, with businesses located on main streets looking to increase their ability to buy on the internet, he added.

This is the kind of new perspective the tour will give the administration, he said. “We are going to have a clear idea of ​​the needs,” he said. “Halfway through, some of these needs are urgent. “

Documents from the State House News Service were used in this report.

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