Empower Digital

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GRANT PROGRAM FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF DIGITAL CAPABILITIES - OVERVIEW

Beginning in May 2021, $3,800,000 will be made available for a Grant Program for the Development of Digital Capabilities. The Development of Digital Capabilities grant is a match of up to $5,000 awarded to small businesses in Massachusetts. This program provides funding for the needs of small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals seeking tools and services to develop their digital capabilities in partnership with a Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) provider.  

SBTA providers are the door to this grant program for applicants. SBTA providers will sponsor small businesses to apply and support the effort of the small business applicants through technical assistance in the application process. The small business applicants, with the help of their SBTA sponsor, will work with a Qualified Professional in the area of their greatest digital need(s) to pursue a digital development plan.  

Additional consideration will be given to businesses owned by women, minorities, immigrants, non-native English speakers, U.S. Military Veterans, disabled individuals, LGBTQ+, low-to-moderate income owners, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and businesses operating in Gateway Cities.  

These funds were appropriated through the Commonwealth’s Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) and will be administered by MGCC. These funds will be made available for eligible businesses until funding is fully disbursed. 

Click here to download a PDF of the full RFP

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY

The Grant Program for the Development of Digital Capabilities is open to participants who meet the following requirements. Eligible applicants must be a small business that:  

  • Has been nominated by a Technical Assistance Provider through MGCC’s Small Business Technical Assistance Program 
  • Is based in Massachusetts with a public-facing, brick-and-mortar (physical) location, or storefront, operating within Massachusetts 
  • Is NOT a home-based business
  • Is employing 1-20 FTE employees (including 1099s)
  • Is the business owners’ primary source of income 
  • Has an annual revenue not exceeding $2,500,000 
  • Has completed and submitted the Digital Assessment to their SBTA Sponsor for review 
  • Has been in business for a minimum of one year at the time of application 
  • Is NOT owned by someone employed by the sponsoring SBTA
  • Is NOT a nonprofit, not-for-profit, or charitable organization 
  • Is NOT a business supplying digital services to other businesses (e.g. website design/development, SEO, programming) 
  • Is NOT a franchise with more than 2 locations, including those individually owned-and-operated (Franchises with up to 2 locations will be considered, but MGCC reserves the right to limit grant funding to one location)  
  • Is NOT a real estate rental/sales business 
  • Is NOT a lobbyist 
  • Is NOT a cannabis related business 

Owned by

  • An individual of 18 years or older at the time of application 
  • A United States citizen or permanent resident   

ATTENTION MULTI-BUSINESS OWNERS: When applying, be aware MGCC reserves the right to limit grant funding for one business per owner. 


TRANSLATIONS - OVERVIEW FOR EMPOWER DIGITAL GRANT PROGRAM

SMALL BUSINESS TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROVIDER (SPONSOR)

Prospective applicants will be nominated and sponsored by a Small Business Technical Assistance (SBTA) provider from MGCC’s network. Prospective applicants without an SBTA Sponsor will be introduced to a [few] relevant SBTA provider[s]. If the introduction results in the SBTA provider sponsoring the applicant, the applicant can move forward with applying for the grant.  

Partnership with a SBTA Provider as a sponsor will help to maximize the potential positive impact of this grant. Our SBTA Providers’ understanding of the landscape of small businesses in Massachusetts, familiarity with small businesses’ areas of greatest digital needs, and extensive network of collaborators helps to optimize this effort. 

The SBTA Sponsor will support the applicant in the following ways: 

  • Review the applicant’s Digital Assessment for coherence and completeness before allowing them to begin the application process for this grant 
  • Assist the applicant to complete the grant application by: 
  • Helping applicant review the results of their Digital Assessment, 
  • Helping to identify digital development goals, 
  • Helping to identify Qualified Professional service providers to achieve digital development goals, 
  • Scoping the project for achieving digital development goals,  
  • As necessary, implementing the digital development project, and 
  • Facilitating communication with all parties involved  

APPLICATION SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

Applicant needs to work with their SBTA Sponsor to access this grant program. Our list of potential SBTA Sponsors can be found on our website. The SBTA Sponsor will then help the applicant to fill out their application electronically, including any attachments, through MGCC’s online application portal, Submittable. Hard copies or electronic copies submitted in any other way, such as mailed in or emailed, will not be considered. Additionally, only complete, accurate, and legible applications will be considered.  

Applicant must submit the following to MGCC for approval: 

  • Proposal for digital development project (Digital Development Plan) including draft of proposed contract with Qualified Professional including deliverables, cost of the project, fees, time frame or start and end dates, and clear success metrics and deadlines to benchmark progress towards the growth of their business   
    • Businesses may choose to work with a Qualified Professional they select independently with approval from their SBTA Sponsor, choose from MGCC’s list of approved Qualified Professionals, or partner with a Qualified Professional approved by an SBTA provider to develop their Digital Development Plan and identify the most effective digital solution(s). 
  • Completed application (via Submittable) answering all the questions and providing information regarding the business status, services needed for digital development project, project costs, and projected outcome(s) 
  • Supporting financial statements 
    • A complete copy (all schedules) of your filed 2019 (or 2020 if available) Federal Business Tax Return as submitted to the IRS. If you file Schedule C income, please upload that document in place of a Business Tax Return 
  • Other supporting documentation  
    • A copy of project proposal(s) from each Qualified Professional(s) involved in the Digital Development Plan including scope of work, costs associated, and deadlines (as many proposals as necessary for the project) 
    • A copy of the business owner's valid photo identification (ID). This ID must match the business owner who is an authorized signer that signs this application. Please submit a photocopy of the front and back of the ID. Examples include (submit one): State-issued driver's license/ID card, U.S. Passport book or card, other valid, state or federal issued photo ID 
    • Copy of lease statement, tenant at will agreement, or mortgage statement for verification of brick-and-mortar, public-facing physical business location   

TIMELINE

  • Grant Program Opens: June 15, 2021
  • Approval Process: 
    • This will be a rolling application. Existing applications will be reviewed by MGCC on a monthly basis. Applicants can expect to hear back within six weeks of the completed submission of their grant application, including all necessary supplementary documents and information.  
  • Implementation Process:
    • Once approved, applicant will have up to 90 days, abiding the timeline detailed in their Digital Development Plan. If the applicant needs more time, the SBTA Sponsor must ask MGCC for an extension. 

Click here to download a PDF of How the Program Works

Click here to download the Grant Calculator Tool

TERMS

  • Funds must be used to develop their digital capabilities (e.g. Digital-based operations, ecommerce solutions, digital marketing, and social media engagement) 
  • For every approved grant, MGCC will provide an 80% match up to $5,000 less a $250 fee per applicant. Applicants will be required to match 20% of approved consulting fees prior to MGCC matching fund release.   
  • Above referenced $250 fee will be paid to the SBTA Sponsor 
    • SBTA Sponsor may choose to waive the $250 fee 
  • Final approval by MGCC of the Digital Development Plan prior to releasing funds to the SBTA Sponsor 
    • Will require a signed contract for each Qualified Professional(s) for their work as detailed in the Digital Development Plan with signatures from the Qualified Professional, the Small Business Owner(s), and SBTA Sponsor prior to releasing funds to SBTA Sponsor 
  • Grant covers customized services from Qualified Professional(s) above and beyond the services normally provided by the SBTA organization to achieve their digital development goals 
  • Applicant will submit only one application for developing digital capabilities during the given fiscal year 
  • Applicant, with the assistance of their SBTA Sponsor, also agrees to complete follow up reporting requirements including but not limited to: success metrics, benchmarks that have or have not been met, and updates on progress towards digital development goals  
  • If a person owns multiple businesses and submits an application for each business, MGCC reserves the right to limit grant to one business per owner 
  • Qualified Professional (digital service provider) cannot be employed by SBTA 

APPROVED USE OF FUNDS

  • Fees for Qualified Professional Services/Consultants, as specified in their Digital Development Plan, including but not limited to:  
    • Designers (Graphic/Motion) 
    • Digital Marketing Strategists 
    • Social Media Strategists 
    • Website/Content Developers 
    • POS Implementation Specialists 
    • Photographers 
    • Writers  
  • Software, as specified in their Digital Development Plan, including but not limited to software for:  
    • Design 
    • Financial/Bookkeeping  
    • POS/CRM 
    • Productivity/ Team Collaboration 
    • Social Media/SEO/Marketing 
    • Cybersecurity 
    • Wifi Upgrade/Internet packages
  • Other use of funds for the development of digital capabilities not specified by a Qualified Professional service/consultant must be justified clearly 

EXCLUSIONS

These grants are intended to increase the digital capabilities of the applicant by providing funding for professional services, training, or digital products according to the Digital Development Plan detailed in the application. Grant funds are not intended for ongoing business expenses. 

REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION

  • A complete copy (all schedules) of your filed 2019 (or 2020 if available) Federal Business Tax Return as submitted to the IRS. If you file Schedule C income, please upload that document in place of a Business Tax Return 
  • Copy of business lease statement, tenant at will agreement, or mortgage statement for verification of brick-and-mortar, public-facing physical business location 
  • A copy of the business owner's valid photo identification (ID). This ID must match the business owner who is an authorized signer that signs this application. Please submit a photocopy of the front and back of the ID. Examples include (submit one): State-issued driver's license/ID card, U.S. Passport book or card, other valid, state or federal issued photo ID 
  • Proposal for digital development project (Digital Development Plan) including draft of proposed contract with Qualified Professional including deliverables, cost of the project, fees, time frame or start and end dates, and clear success metrics and deadlines to benchmark progress towards the growth of their business   
    • Businesses may choose to work with a Qualified Professional they select independently with approval from their SBTA Sponsor, choose from MGCC’s list of approved Qualified Professionals, or partner with a Qualified Professional approved by an SBTA provider to develop their Digital Development Plan and identify the most effective digital solution(s). 
  • A copy of project proposal(s) from each Qualified Professional(s) involved in the Digital Development Plan including scope of work, costs associated, and deadlines (as many proposals as necessary for the project) 

AWARD PROCESS  

  • Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) will review all applications to determine eligibility. MGCC will select grantees based upon eligibility criteria and preference prioritization. 
  • Grant Calculator Tool

COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL FUNDS, LAWS AND REGULATIONS 

  • Applicants must comply with all applicable laws.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT ON SUBMITTABLE 

OTHER QUESTIONS: CONTACT MGCC 

LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS: Program overview information will be made available in multiple languages. (Application remains in English.) 

 

Click Here to Apply

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please refer to this section for the answers to the most frequently asked questions.