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Massachusetts Offering $78.6 Million In COVID-19 Grants To Small Businesses

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts is highlighting efforts to help small businesses survive the economic turmoil they have suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This week, nearly 1,600 businesses received grants totaling $78.6 million through a state COVID-19 business grant program. It's the third round of grants to be awarded since Dec. 21.

"We know how much this pandemic has affected small business in the Commonwealth of Mass.," said Gov. Charlie Baker said. "We really do hope that people who qualify will have a chance to apply and receive some of the support that this program can make available."

Back in late December, Baker announced the state was installing a $668 million program to offer relief grants. So far, the administration has awarded close to $195 million in direct financial support to more than 4,100 small businesses out of that $668 million fund.

The help is targeted at businesses hit hardest by the pandemic, including restaurants, small retailers, and indoor entertainment venues, Baker said.

The remaining money will likely go to tens of thousands of businesses in the coming weeks, Baker said. Grants of up to $75,000 are still available, he added.

"The program we're operating is the largest small business grant program using COVID relief funds currently in the United States," the Republican said while visiting Ristorante Saraceno, a restaurant in Boston's North End.

Applications for the next round of grants are due by 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The program will offer grants of not more than three months' operating expenses, to be used for payroll and employee benefit costs, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and interest on other debt obligations.

The grants are focused on restaurants, bars, caterers and food trucks; indoor recreation and entertainment establishments; gyms and fitness centers; event-support companies (photographers, videographers); personal services (nail salons, barbershops, independent pharmacies); and independent retailers.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press's Steve LeBlanc contributed to this report.)

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