North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation announces Regional Business Investment Fund

The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation, the economic development arm of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, recently announced a new funding opportunity to provide low or no-cost funds to developers.

The Regional Business Investment Fund (RBIF) is an initiative recommended by the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce One North Central regional economic development plan to encourage more real estate development in the region. The funding can be used by developers for engineering, soft costs, site work, infrastructure, and hard costs for specific developments in the 26 communities that make up the North Central region.

“As part of our One North Central plan, we learned that investment in new, ground-up real estate development has been limited in the region,” said Roy Nascimento, President and CEO, North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation. “Through this new fund, we are able to pool resources and coordinate efforts to help mitigate costs for developers to encourage them to look at our region for their next project.”

The RBIF differs from other loan programs offered through the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation. The loans are very flexible and geared towards real estate projects, with flexible repayment terms, and can be used to cover soft costs and other expenses not traditionally covered by lenders. Also, unlike other loan programs, the RBIF can be used for housing projects and non-profits are also eligible. Projects in the communities that contribute toward the fund are given priority. The RBIF loans are intended to work in conjunction with other local, state, and federal incentives and financing to encourage priority real estate development projects in the region. Documented support from the local municipality must be provided to be eligible.

Initial seed funding of $500,000 was provided by the City of Fitchburg and the City of Gardner through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, with each city providing $250,000, as well as matching funding of $250,000 from the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation.  The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation hopes to secure additional funding over time to help grow the fund and have a larger impact in projects.

A project in the city of Fitchburg was the first to receive funding under the RBIF loan program for a property located at 332-244 Main Street, known as the Dickenson Building. A loan of $60,000 was provided to property owner Christopher Iousa and will be utilized to repair an exterior wall to ensure safety for both the new plaza where the façade overhangs and for the tenants inside of the building over the next few months. Without repair, the issue would impact approximately 31 total employees while also leaving a blighted building in the downtown area. The repair also opens up the building to future housing development on the top floors.

“The city of Fitchburg has already benefited from this unique funding opportunity with the work completed on Main Street,” said Mayor Stephen DiNatale, City of Fitchburg. “We thank the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation for their partnership in this program, which will provide an opportunity for developers to invest in Fitchburg and align with our efforts to reinvent our downtown.”

“We’ve been working to attract developers to our downtown area and this new opportunity through this new regional fund will enhance our current efforts,” said Mayor Michael Nicholson, City of Gardner. “With this new tool in our economic development toolbox, we hope developers will see Gardner as a place with tremendous opportunity to grow and sustain a property.”