In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for more capital to help support its lending efforts to businesses negatively impacted, the Chamber and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation launch a new Economic Recovery Fund. The idea for this new fund came from several financial institutions in the region that approached the Chamber with this concept of a locally supported recovery fund. Berkshire Bank, Fidelity Bank and Digital Federal Credit Union were the founding sponsors of this fund and contributed $100,000 each to help capitalize the recovery effort. In addition, the NCMDC contributed $100,000 of its own money to the new fund. Workers’ Credit Union and Bank of America contributed $10,000 each and bankHometown contributed $5,000. The funds raised were disbursed almost immediately. In an eight-week period following the start of the crisis, the NCMDC loaned out almost $800,000 in emergency loans, with the smallest just $2,700 and the largest $54,000. The recipients were all vulnerable and underserved small businesses, including a bike shop, a gym, hair salons, coffee shops, local restaurants and more that were impacted by the economic disruption from COVID-19.
To help shore up its lending capacity, the NCMDC goes on to secure a $500,000 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. A grant from Commonwealth of Massachusetts helped support the SBA’s requirement for matching funds for a Loan Loss Reserve.