Deadline: June 14, 2022
Acton Business Incubator (ABI) Program 2022 – Grants – United States
Town of Acton – According to the International Business Innovation Association, there are approximately 1400 Business incubators in our country. The Massachusetts Association of Business Incubators lists 22 organizations that are business incubators or have a component of their service offerings include technical and financial assistance to businesses. Neither Acton nor any of its contiguous neighbor Towns have such an organization. Acton has a 90/10 split in terms of its tax base with 90% being residential and 10% being commercial. The strategic vision of success for the Town includes preventing the 10% from shrinking and encouraging economic growth in the longterm.
Statement of Need:
There is not a level playing field for small businesses – and the global COVID-19 pandemic has only widened the inequality gaps in wealth and business creation. Acton’s business community is not immune to these same influences. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of small businesses fail within the first year, 33% fail within two years and 50% fail within five years. For context, 99% of businesses in America qualify as small businesses. 82% of these failures can be attributed to cash flow issues. The other 18% fail due to factors such as not finding a place for their products/services in the market, poor management, poor planning and lack of business skills.
The business failure rates are slightly better in Massachusetts at the five-year mark according to an organization called Advisor Smith with a failure rate of 46%. The other time periods (one year and two years) are the same as the national averages. Also according to their research, the reasons for failure are the same: cash flow, lack of business skills, lack of a market for product/service, poor planning and poor management.
The US Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy created a profile on the State of Massachusetts business pre-COVID. In 2018, there were slightly more than 650,000 small businesses in MA, representing 95% of all business. These small businesses employ 46.1% of all the workers in the Commonwealth (1.5 million workers). Pre-COVID, the number of jobs gained from small businesses was slightly less (approximately 1,000) than the number of jobs lost from failed businesses. The top five industries were Health Care and Social Assistance; Accommodation and Food Services; Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Retail Trade; and Manufacturing. The Office of Advocacy released a new report in 2021 showing that there were now slightly more than 715,000 small businesses – while this represents an increase in the number of businesses, they still remain at 95% of all business in the state. Small business employment remains at 1.5 million, now representing 45.7% of workers, a slight decrease. The number of jobs gained from small businesses was less (approximately 5,000) than the number of jobs lost from failed businesses. The top five industries now are Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services; Construction; Real Estate and Rental and Leasing; Other Services (except Public Administration); and Transportation and Warehousing.
Acton’s small business community provides employment, products and services to our residents and the workers who commute to Acton. Population growth demonstrates that during the pandemic, more people have moved to Acton than have left. At the same time, the high number of vacant storefronts on our main business corridors leaves areas looking abandoned and blighted. Conversations with current business owners demonstrate that there are times that due to lower customer traffic, they are struggling with cash flow issues. Additionally, there are times when they do not know how to handle the challenges presented by both the pandemic and the digitalized nature of the current shopping landscape. One owner of a local business in Acton shared that, “At the same time as my customers were becoming so used to conducting all transactions online, COVID hit and I had to close. So I had to figure out and buy new technology at a time when I didn’t have any customers or money coming in. I haven’t recovered and I am scared I never will.”
There is a need for additional stores, restaurants and service providers to support the growing population. At the same time, there is a need for current and potential business owners to be supported in the challenges that they face. Thus, there is a need for Acton Business Incubator (ABI). ABI will be a champion for local business owners and assist them with funding, technical assistance and guidance on navigating the process of starting and running a business in Town.
Goal for the Acton Business Incubator (ABI) Program 2022
The Economic Development Office of the Town of Acton seeks to support the economic vitality of our Town. The goal of Acton Business Incubator (ABI) is to nurture startup businesses that want to locate in Acton by assisting them through development and providing resources to help them become an established contributor to the local economy. The ABI will also assist existing businesses that are struggling under the current economic conditions created by COVID. An incubator is not the same as that of a developer or investor. It is well documented that businesses that are nurtured through their startup phase generally remain in that location even if they experience future expansion. At the same time, it is known that a huge reason for business failure is
insufficient funding to cope with initial sustainability or with growth. The ABI will support and advocate for the survival and growth of local businesses by providing technical assistance and high impact local grant funding.
This program is funded by a MA Regional Economic Development Organization (REDO) grant in partnership with the 495W Partnership and run by The Town of Acton’s Economic Development Office. We are proud of the Acton business community and our goal is to help the businesses who are here to stay and thrive while also attracting new businesses. There are three avenues to join the incubator:
1. Sign Program: Participants in this program will receive funding towards the cost of a new or recent sign, assistance navigating the sign permitting process and a technical seminar regarding thriving as a business owner. (Up to 4 grants available)
2. General Grant Program: Eligible participants are existing businesses who may be struggling through the pandemic or new businesses who have recently located/relocated in Acton. Selected participants will receive a grant for operating their business and a technical seminar regarding thriving as a business owner. (Up to 8 grants available)
3. Pop up Program: Participants in the program have products to sell and will participate in a coordinated pop up market to sell their products and technical seminar regarding thriving as a business owner. (Up to 8 spaces available)
ABI will provide technical education for businesses. We welcome businesses and want to equip them to succeed. ABI will provide workshops on creating a business plan, social media, taxes, permitting, networking, choosing a commercial location and more to help businesses navigate the economic infrastructure successfully. ABI will also provide financing for businesses in the form of forgivable loans where the funds would be used to either start a business, increase hiring or increase services offered. Those receiving funding will be required to attend at least one technical education workshops to increase their knowledge and likelihood of success.
The focus of ABI will be on the business sectors identified as meeting a need in the community. Where there are sectors that are considered full or over-saturated, those businesses may attend our workshops but will not be eligible for funding. ABI will annually survey the needs of the community to identify gaps in what products and services are available and needed by those living, working and visiting our Town. Participants in ABI will have to apply to be in the program and agree to meet benchmarks and deliverables set by the program.
ABI will provide a uniquely supportive environment to nurture and grow businesses. ABI will seek to build partnerships with other private and public entities to create its physical locations to support pop up shops, lowcost longer-term rentals and more frequent events and classes. ABI will serve as a facilitator of funding and business assistance for the community.
Eligibility for the Acton Business Incubator (ABI) Program 2022
To be eligible, business owners must be 18 or older, local and have revenues under $250,000.
To apply to join the Acton Business Incubator, business owners must complete an application here no later than
June 14, 2022.
– Release of Call for Applicants to the Acton Business Incubator: May 23, 2022
– Deadline to submit applications: June 14, 2022
-Technical Seminars: TBD Summer 2022
– Documentation Submission: September 15, 2022
Julie Pierce Onos, Director of Economic Development
Town of Acton
Acton Business Incubator Program
472 Main Street
Acton, MA 01720