Dani’s Queer Bar, which is poised to open soon in the space formerly occupied by the Pour House at 907 Boylston St. in the Back Bay, has been named among the 24 small businesses citywide to receive American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding via the first round of the city’s SPACE grants.
“The Boston SPACE grant has been crucial for the opening of Dani’s Queer Bar, as it provides the much-needed financial support to create a safe and inclusive space for the community,” said Thais Rocha of Dani’s Queer Bar, a self-described “unique space specifically for Boston’s women’s, nonbinary, and trans queer community,” in a press release from the city. “With this grant, we offer resources that celebrate diversity, promoting a sense of belonging and acceptance for all patrons. By being a recipient of the Boston SPACE grant, Dani’s Bar can become a powerful catalyst for social change, driving positive impact and fostering a stronger, united LGBTQIA community in the city.”
On July 28, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the first $2,830,000 round in SPACE (Supporting Pandemic Affected Community Enterprises) grants which, according to the city, are intended to “bring more foot traffic into major commercial districts, revitalize Boston’s downtown, bring vibrancy to city neighborhoods, and close the racial wealth gap. Of the businesses to receive grants, 75 percent were minority-owned and more than 60 percent women-owned, and each of the 24 recipients is receiving between $40,000 and $200,000 over three years depending on their business needs. In all, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity & Inclusion received more than 350 applications from across all neighborhoods for this round of funding.
“The SPACE Grant program connects entrepreneurs with the extra capital and technical assistance they need to be vibrant, successful additions to our downtown and our neighborhoods,” Mayor Wu said in a press release. “These first 24 recipients each have an incredible story of entrepreneurship, from immigrants sharing their culture through food, to daycares filling a need seen in many of our communities. This program at its core is a win-win for Boston, filling vacant storefronts while helping our small businesses thrive.”
A total of $9 million has been budgeted for the SPACE program. Of that amount, $6,170,000 of dedicated ARPA dollars remain to support additional small businesses in future funding rounds. Applications for the next funding round will open on Monday, Oct. 2; this second round will also focus on filling vacant storefronts citywide with diverse local businesses.
Moreover, grantees are receiving small business resources through local banking institutions including Eastern Bank, Bank of America, and Citizens Bank; tenant improvement contributions offered by participating landlords; and local residential investments via Mainvest’s crowd-investing platform made possible by President Obama’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. Wraparound services will also be provided by the Small Business Technical Assistance Program through the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity & Inclusion’s Small Business team, according to the city.