January 4, 2021


MA Small Business Grant
Application Period Now Open


The Baker Administration's $668 million business relief package, administered by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), is now accepting applications. The business relief package consists of two programs: (1) a recapitalization of the first small business relief program, which launched in October and (2) additional funding for businesses that fall into specific industry sectors. MGCC is reviewing existing applications from the first small business relief program, and has released a new application for the sector-specific grant program which may be found at program overview link below.

  • A program overview for the sector-specific program is now online and can be found here.
  • The application period for the new program will run from Thursday, December 31st through Friday, January 15th.
  • Businesses that already applied to MGCC’s first small business relief program from October do not need to reapply to the new program. All applications in the existing program are currently being reviewed.
  • Businesses that have already submitted complete and accurate applications to the first program and either (a) meet the demographic preferences from the first program or (b) meet the sector-specific preferences from the new program will receive funding.
    • Demographic preferences: Minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, businesses owned by persons with disabilities, or businesses located in Gateway Cities
    • Sector preferences: Restaurants/Bars, Independent Retailers, Indoor Recreation and Entertainment, Personal Services, Event Support Companies (additional details)
  • Businesses that have already applied to MGCC through the first program will be notified of their award status by January 18th.
  • Businesses that have not already applied to MGCC and choose to apply in the new program will be notified of their award status in February.

This program is intended to assist the hardest hit small businesses. Though many businesses have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, not all needs are equal. An excessive number of applications submitted by businesses with lesser need will delay the awarding of grants to businesses facing extraordinary circumstances. Businesses that are well-positioned to receive newly available PPP funds are encouraged to seek relief from that alternative source.

Economic Development, Transportation Still Undone as Legislature
Enters Final 36 Hours of Session

With less than 36 hours left in the current legislative session, two conference committees continued to work on finalizing agreements on major economic development legislation and a transportation bond bill.  The House of Representatives, under the leadership of a new Speaker of the House, Ron Mariano of Quincy, and State Senate are scheduled to meet most of the day today and tomorrow. 
In the last two weeks, negotiators reached agreements on major policing reform legislation and a health care bill that addressed telehealth coverage and reimbursements, and surprise billing.  Last night, an agreement was announced on a climate change bill that will set the Commonwealth on a path to “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  The policing reform bill has been signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker, the health care bill is now on his desk, and the climate bill is expected to be sent to him today.  Economic development and transportation bills are the two major pieces still pending before House and Senate conference committees.
The health care bill mandates telehealth coverage of all primary and chronic care services by in-network providers at the in-person rate for two years, while mandating coverage for behavioral health telehealth services at the in-person rate in perpetuity.
In the economic development conference, conferees must resolve differences related to housing reform, the authorization of sports gambling in the Commonwealth, and an important Senate adopted retail provision making a technical correction to the “Grand Bargain” of 2018 that completes the phase out of state mandated holiday premium pay for most retail employees.  The Senate bill includes New Year’s Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day in the current phase down schedule established in the Grand Bargain for all Sundays and the other three state holidays.  The holidays were initially excluded due to a drafting error.  The bill also includes a number of measures targeted toward small business COVID-19 relief.
The 192nd session of the MA Legislature begins on Wednesday.


Gov. Baker Signs Law Banning Sale of
Products Containing Certain Flame Retardants

A new law signed by Gov. Baker on Friday prohibits the future sale of certain children’s products, upholstered furniture, carpeting, mattresses, bedding and window treatments, that contain any of 11 listed chemical flame retardants.  The law does not apply to inventory manufactured prior to Dec. 31, 2021.  Similar legislation was pocket-vetoed by the Governor at the end of the last legislative session.
The MA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will draft regulations necessary to implement the law, which may include a labeling program for covered products that satisfy safety standards and do not contain any of the banned chemical flame retardants.  RAM had opposed passage of the bill, and now will continue to engage in the regulatory process at the Department to ensure that RAM members’ concerns are addressed.


Paycheck Protection Program: Round 3

A third round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program has been authorized as part of the federal economic stimulus package signed into law by President Trump last week.  The $284 billion in funding will reopen the PPP to returning borrowers who have exhausted funds received during previous rounds of the program, as well as open the program to new first-time borrowers.  The program has been extended through March 31, 2021, or until funds are depleted.

The legislation made a number of changes to the third round of PPP loans, however, specific details will not be available until the Small Business Administration issues official guidance materials.  The official guidance is expected by the January 6th, 2021 deadline.  Known changes include: 

  • Expanding eligibility to both new and returning borrowers.
    • First-time loans are available for the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the borrower’s average monthly payroll.
    • Second-draw loans up to $2 million are available for small businesses experiencing a loss of at least 25% of gross receipts in any quarter during 2020 when compared to that same quarter in 2019.
  • Allowing borrowers to choose their own covered period for using funds—previous rounds required this period to start from the date funds were first received and hindered the ability of borrowers to maximize forgiveness.  
  • Expanding the list of expenditures eligible for loan forgiveness beyond payroll, rent, covered mortgage interest, and utilities, to include certain operational expenses, covered property damage costs, listed supplier costs and covered worker protection expenses.
  • Allowing received loan funds to be excluded from the borrower’s taxable income. This allows businesses expenses paid for with forgiven loan amounts to be tax-deductible.
  • Removing restrictions on borrowers utilizing both a PPP loan and an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Borrowers may now take advantage of both programs.

As we await specific details from the SBA, RAM encourages members to continue to check the RAM website for further details as they become available. Members should also monitor the Small Business Administration PPP program website for updates.


Effective January 1, 2021:

MA Wage and Hour & Paid

Family and Medical Leave Law Changes


Members are reminded that a number of changes to the Massachusetts Wage and Hour Law (click here for new poster) and Paid Family and Medical Leave Law are scheduled to become effective January 1, 2021. To learn more about these changes please click here.



Final Holiday Sales Survey for 2020

As the voice of the retail industry in Massachusetts, RAM is frequently called upon to discuss the state of our industry, consumer trends and important retail topics, such as holiday sales. In an effort to adequately monitor and report on this year's retail holiday sales figures we ask RAM members to provide us with sales gain/loss numbers over a same period one year ago.   This final survey focuses on your December sales.

Click here to respond. Thank you for taking the time to provide us your holiday sales results.