New ARPA Funded Programs to Assist Existing & New Businesses Launched Today

NEW BEDFORD, MA – With the firm belief that strong entrepreneurial ecosystems strengthen businesses, close access gaps and help build community wealth, the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) is today launching NBForward! and NB100! – two new funding programs to help finance the dreams of existing and aspiring small businesses in the City of New Bedford.

“Entrepreneurs drive opportunity and growth in our economy. Positioning them for success will accelerate New Bedford’s emergence from the pandemic,” remarks Mayor Jon Mitchell. “The New Bedford Economic Development Council has a proven track record of supporting small businesses, and these two new programs will leverage their experience and expertise.”

The new programs are made possible through the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Community Navigator Program supported by the City of New Bedford’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding package. In total, $3.3 million in funding is being made available to support local businesses and entrepreneurs.

NBForward! will provide funding to existing New Bedford businesses still suffering negative effects of the pandemic. NB100! will focus on assisting early-stage entrepreneurs affected because of their industry or location. Information and applications for eligible businesses and entrepreneurs can be found at

NBForward! will offer at least 100 grants of up to $20,000 in conjunction with matching loan financing from other, non-ARPA sources, and with payments deferred for three months – along with technical assistance including business planning, resource guidance, and best practices.  This program provides resources for businesses to get through the challenges of the next phase of our pandemic recovery, while looking toward investing in and preparing for, greater future success.

“Connectivity is critical to help small businesses achieve success throughout the business lifecycle,” says Anthony Sapienza, President of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “From beginning to end, both NB100! and NBForward! are designed to not only provide New Bedford businesses with much-needed financial support to come out of the pandemic, but also the technical know-how necessary to remain viable and vibrant for years to come.

“No matter where someone may be in their entrepreneurial journey – whether they are just starting out or a well-established operation – in New Bedford we have a pathway available for them.”

NB100! aims to promote entrepreneurship, grow local wealth, and strengthen community bonds by helping 100 new businesses get off the ground while having positive impacts on New Bedford’s neighborhoods.

“The SBA is excited to work alongside the New Bedford Economic Development Council on removing barriers that underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs in the South Coast region face with accessing resources to recover, grow, and start businesses,” said SBA Massachusetts District Director Robert Nelson about the NB100! program.

“Through the SBA Navigators Pilot Program, our goal is to empower key community-based organizations to reinvigorate the local small business community with critical resources and assistance.”

NB100! will be specifically tailored to the spirit of innovation and creativity which characterizes entrepreneurship in New Bedford. Indeed, a critical part of NB100! is activating the network of partners who have founded New Bedford SourceLink in order to create connections which will set businesses up for greater success in both the near and long-term.

Through NB100!, one hundred eligible businesses may receive grants up to a maximum of $10,000 – but engagement and support will continue long after grant awards are made. And, because socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs have historically been disproportionately disenfranchised, especially throughout the pandemic, a majority of the awardees will be women, minority, and veteran applicants.

The NBEDC will act as the Hub of the program. It will handle the administration of NB100!, which includes managing the application process, reporting to the SBA, and coordination between entrepreneurs and New Bedford SourceLink Resource Partners – serving as the Spokes making the wheels turn.

The seven partners providing direct technical assistance include EforAll South Coast, Groundwork, Co-Creative/New Bedford Creative, New Bedford Ocean Cluster, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Bristol Community College, and Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts.

“The beautiful thing about the Hub and Spoke platform of NB100! is that each of our New Bedford SourceLink partners have something different to offer a large variety of entrepreneurs,” explains Jeffrey Pelletier, President of Junior Achievement of Southern Massachusetts.

“Junior Achievement’s programs tap into the limitless potential of young entrepreneurs across our city who are excited to build and grow their businesses and futures in New Bedford. We are grateful to be a part of this partnership that can serve all of our city’s entrepreneurs and together we will be laying the groundwork for continued economic growth that impacts every corner of our city.”

The NBEDC’s mission is to cultivate and promote a transparent, credible, and business-friendly environment in the City of New Bedford. It works collaboratively with local, state, and federal partners to support creativity, sustainable job growth, and private sector investment benefiting the citizens of the city.

As a tool to achieve those goals, it launched New Bedford SourceLink in anticipation of the dramatically changed small business landscape after the COVID-19 pandemic in a dynamically forming new economy. New Bedford SourceLink was developed as a supportive platform to connect maritime,  arts+culture, and main street entrepreneurs to a network of local, regional, and national resource partners to foster innovation, growth, and prosperity.

New Bedford SourceLink partners are all trusted, culturally knowledgeable local individuals, organizations and business. Each will connect to specific sectors of the entrepreneurial community reflected by NB100! to provide assistance during economic recovery from the pandemic and into the emerging transformed economy.

The Spoke Partners will craft their own technical assistance programs available to selected NB100! grant recipients. These could range from workshops, training series, to one-on-one consultations. Eligible entrepreneurs will need to have completed technical assistance programming with one of the Spoke Partners to complete their online application to NB100!

Beginning today, New Bedford businesses can apply to participate in the NBForward! and NB100! programs. For a full rundown of requirements and benefits, visit

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