The opening of restaurants and retail—two sectors especially hard-hit by the pandemic—is as welcome as the arrival of spring. With millions of Massachusetts citizens vaccinated to date, safety protocols in place, and the promise of warm weather, residents of the Greater Boston area are ready to reemerge after a long, dark winter.
During a year of tremendous hardship, both stores and restaurants— from locally-owned establishments to major national chains— have demonstrated grit, determination, creativity, and resiliency. In many cases, it was necessary for established businesses to “pivot” to keep employees on the payroll and address the public’s changing needs.
In an effort to support the struggling business community, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts made funding available through new and existing initiatives, with an emphasis on sectors experiencing the most significant economic hardship, such as the state’s many small, independent businesses like restaurants, retailers, and entertainment venues. In January 2021, Governor Baker announced that over $277 million in direct financial support had been distributed to almost 6,000 small businesses and that an additional $45.3 million in grants had been awarded to 1,100 small businesses through the $688 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Small Business Grant program.
The City of Boston also launched a host of new and much-needed initiatives. In a 2020 speech delivered virtually to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, then Mayor Marty Walsh noted at that time that the City had established small business funds providing $9 million to more than 2,500 small businesses, “the backbone of our neighborhood economies and local communities,” with more than half of those dollars supporting small businesses owned by people of color. In addition, the Mayor noted, more than 550 Boston restaurants received approval for outdoor dining, a policy which clearly kept many afloat during a very uncertain time.
Many entrepreneurs demonstrated their determination by planning new ventures, investing in tools and technology, creating flexible online platforms, keeping pace with an evolving list of guidelines, and designing vibrant outdoor spaces. And their persistence is paying off. Despite many challenges, new restaurants are popping up across the Commonwealth. In addition to cheering the reopening of our favorite local establishments, Massachusetts diners will have even more options as we return to normal.
If our project pipeline is any indicator, businesses throughout the Greater Boston area are ready to launch new locations and fling open their doors. But these openings, while essential to the state’s economic recovery, are about much more than transactions. Restaurants and shops are important parts of the communities they serve. They are gathering places that attract both locals and visitors and bring life and activity to our neighborhoods.
As Massachusetts restaurants can once again offer indoor dining JM Electrical is proud to support our clients. Whether it is Nautilus in the Seaport, a sports bar near Boston Garden, or a B. GOOD cafe at Logan Airport, these businesses are leading the charge in terms of driving our regional economy and setting a superlative standard for public health and service as we rebound following the pandemic.