Assistance for Businesses
Somerville’s many businesses--from small retailers to experimental restaurants to innovative technology companies--play a big role in making our city a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. The Economic Development Department works with businesses of all sizes and types to support their growth and success in Somerville.
Commercial Property Improvement Program
Commercial Property Improvement Program
The Commercial Property Improvement Program (CPIP) provides to businesses and commercial property owners design and financial support in the renovation or restoration of commercial building facades. The CPIP is part of a strategy to revitalize key eligible business districts in Somerville by improving the exterior appearance and appeal of commercial shops while also enhancing the urban realm
In many cases, CPIP can provide a reimbursable matching grant for approved storefront and building improvements. These funds are allocated towards items such as the renovation or restoration of architectural details, the installation of energy efficient windows and entrance systems, ADA upgrades, the removal of roll down grills, and signage, awnings and lighting for commercial properties in eligible locations in Somerville.
- Under CPIP, property owners and tenants may receive 100% reimbursement up to $7500 on smaller projects designed to upgrade the aesthetic appeal of a business with new lighting, awnings and signage.
- Larger projects may also receive the 100% reimbursement for the aesthetic upgrade portion of the work but can qualify for an additional $35,000 to be paid on a 50% reimbursable basis.
- One of the most important eligibility factors is compliance with American with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Additional funds under the reimbursable plan may be allocated to meet ADA standards.
If you wish to participate in the Commercial Property Improvement Program or would like additional information, please contact Nick Schonberger, Program Coordinator, at the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development at 617-625-6600, or send an e-mail to [email protected]. The City of Somerville will provide auxiliary services, written materials in alternative formats, and reasonable modifications in policies and procedures to persons with disabilities upon request.
Networking and Advocacy
- East Somerville Main Streets: Organizes events, connects member businesses to resources, and helps members stay up-to-date on news that affects the East Somerville neighborhood.
- Somerville Local First: Supports locally owned and independent businesses in the City by managing marketing campaigns to support local businesses, providing technical assistance to entrepreneurs, and connecting business owners to each other.
- Somerville Chamber of Commerce: Networking and advocacy for Somerville businesses.
- Union Square Main Streets: Organizes events, connects member businesses to resources, and helps members stay up-to-date on news that affects the Union Square neighborhood.
- Somerville Entrepreneur Network: The City of Somerville Economic Development team and the Somerville Public Library host monthly meetups for aspiring and current entrepreneurs. To receive updates about future events, sign up for our email list.
Business Development & Support
- Nibble Entrepreneurship Program (Somerville Arts Council): These culinary training programs work directly with immigrants to assist them in exploring a culinary career and testing a food business idea. For more information, contact Rachel Strutt at [email protected] or 617.625.6600, x 2985.
- Boston SCORE: Offers free counseling and mentoring to those looking to start or grow a business and free and low-cost workshops on a variety of topics.
- Center for Women in Enterprise: Provides education and technical support for female business owners.
- Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice: Provides legal support and free events for small businesses.
- Massachusetts Small Business Development Center: Provides free, one-to-one business assistance and free or low-cost training programs to prospective and existing small businesses.
- U.S. Small Business Administration: The SBA provides regular trainings, workshops, and other resources to small businesses throughout the nation. There is a regional office and a Boston district office for even more targeted support.
- Direct Install for Small Business (Mass Save): Eversource provides eligible business customers a free energy audit of their facility by Mass Save. The audit will identify energy saving opportunities, and potentially pay for up to 70% of the total cost for retrofitting qualified lighting and mechanical systems. Gas measures will also be addressed. For further information and other small business incentives, please visit Mass Save's website for businesses.
- Disabled Access Credit (U.S. Government): The Disabled Access Credit provides a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities. An eligible small business is one that that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full time employees in the previous year; they may take the credit each and every year they incur access expenditures. Refer to Form 8826, Disabled Access Credit (PDF), for information about eligible expenditures. Additional information can be found by visiting the American with Disabilities Act website or calling the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or TTY 800-514-0383..
- Barrier Removal Tax Deduction (U.S. Government): The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax Deduction encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses for items that normally must be capitalized. Businesses may use the Disabled Tax Credit and the architectural/transportation tax deduction together in the same tax year, if the expenses meet the requirements of both sections. For further information, contact the Internal Revenue Service. Additional information can be found by visiting the American with Disabilities Act website or calling the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or TTY 800-514-0383.
- Federal Tax Incentives for Preserving Historic Properties (U.S. Government): Federal historic preservation tax incentives are available for any qualified project that the Secretary of the Interior designates as a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. For more information, please visit the National Park Service’s website.
- Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (Commonwealth of Massachusetts): The Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax allows the certified rehabilitation of an income-producing property to receive up to 20% of the cost of certified rehabilitation expenditures in state tax credit. For more information, please visit the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s website.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (U.S. Government): The SBA offers many loan programs; the 7a loans and the CDC/504 loans have been useful to a number of business in Somerville. If you are looking to purchase a building or fixed equipment for your business, these loans can provide SBA-guaranteed loans that will drastically reduce the financing costs.
The City of Somerville's Economic Development Office, in partnership with Good Egg Marketing, a Boston-based marketing firm, is pleased to offer the Economic Gardening business assistance program. The Economic Gardening program will target Stage II Somerville businesses looking to grow. A Stage II business is one with between 10 and 100 full-time employees and over $1 million in annual revenue.
This technical assistance will include a marketing audit; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis; a marketing plan, and further business plan analysis and recommendations if needed.
The program will take place in two phases over the course of 2018. In Phase I, three to five businesses will be selected to undergo a needs assessment and receive recommendations. One to three businesses will then continue on to Phase II and receive continued coaching and implementation on previous recommendations for the remainder of the year. Please contact Nick Schonberger at [email protected] or (617) 625-6600 x2527 for more information.