SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – MassDevelopment has awarded a $10,000 grant to Blues to Green, Inc., which will use funds to relocate the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival downtown to the Springfield Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) district to help catalyze economic recovery and support Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned businesses in the neighborhood. Festival events will also take place at local parks and businesses, including three emerging Black-owned businesses, and will provide employment and exposure opportunities to local Springfield artists. Blues to Green, Inc. will also crowdfund this summer; if the organization reaches its $40,000 goal it will receive an additional $40,000 matching grant from MassDevelopment. The funds are awarded through MassDevelopment’s special Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places, which was made available specifically to assist local economic recovery efforts as community partners prepare public spaces and commercial districts to serve residents and visitors.
“Before this pandemic, the vibrant centers of our cities and towns were not only a driving force behind the strength of local economies, they were the places where we gathered to dine, to shop, and to be entertained, and the Commonwealth Places program is one way that we can help these areas bounce back stronger than ever,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “The Baker-Polito Administration continues to support downtowns and town centers through various economic recovery programs, and these Resurgent Places grants are providing non-profit community organizations with the resources to activate public spaces, boost economic activity, and support an equitable recovery.”
“We are proud to support Blues to Green, Inc. in this way as it relocates the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival downtown to drive foot traffic to BIPOC-owned businesses,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is focused on assisting hard-hit neighborhoods as they recover from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. Our Resurgent Places grants will help make it easier for people to come together again for arts and cultural celebrations that benefit both the local economy and the larger community.”
Created in 2016, Commonwealth Places aims to engage and mobilize community members to make individual contributions to placemaking projects, with the incentive of a funding match from MassDevelopment if the crowdfunding goal is reached. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment announced the opening of the first Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places in June 2020 and from August – October 2020 awarded $224,965 in funding for 21 placemaking projects across Massachusetts.
In December 2020, MassDevelopment announced the availability of $390,000 in funding for a second Commonwealth Places COVID-19 Response Round: Resurgent Places. Nonprofits and other community groups can apply to MassDevelopment for seed grants of between $250 to $7,500 to fund inclusive community engagement, visioning, and local capacity building that will support future placemaking efforts, or implementation grants of up to $50,000 to execute a placemaking project. For implementation grants, up to $10,000 per project may be awarded as an unmatched grant; awards greater than $10,000 must be matched with crowdfunding donations.
Expressions of interest will be accepted on a rolling basis until June 30, 2021 and are available at massdevelopment.com/commonwealthplaces.
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.