BOSTON – On Wednesday, December 15, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the opening of the Fiscal Year 2023 Community One Stop for Growth by making available the Expression of Interest Portal.
Launched in January 2021, the Community One Stop for Growth is a streamlined application process that makes it easier for municipalities to access the Commonwealth’s numerous grant programs.
In its first year, 360 project proposals were submitted from 177 communities across the Commonwealth, with over $300 million in requests.
It resulted in 196 grant awards to projects across 122 communities, with over $88.6 million in community and economic development grant funds being awarded – including over $28.8 million to Gateway Cities and $21.7 million to rural and small towns.
The One Stop process not only helped to make grants programs more accessible to all communities, large and small – a principle in the Administration’s Partnerships for Growth plan – but also ensured the equitable distribution of resources across all regions of the Commonwealth.
“As the results of the first year have shown, the One Stop’s simplified format has had a transformative impact on how our Administration can support communities’ plans for economic development, job creation and housing production,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through a range of improvements including a streamlined application process, the One Stop provides cities and towns with enhanced certainty when budgeting for projects and allows for critical grant funding to be directed toward the highest priority projects.”
“The opening of the Expression of Interest portal officially kicks off the next round of One Stop awards and I look forward to engaging with communities to help map out their economic development priorities for the year ahead,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “With the addition of three new grant programs and the ability to refer applicants to programs outside the One Stop, this year’s round will expand opportunities for critical funding to a greater number of important projects that will leverage private investment, create needed housing, and help revitalize our communities across the Commonwealth.”
As a first step in the process, the Expression of Interest provides applicants with the unique opportunity to receive guidance on potential economic development projects prior to submitting a Full Application to the One Stop. Submitting an Expression of Interest is a highly recommended component of the One Stop process, as it allows applicants to partner with the Commonwealth to help strengthen their full applications. Applicants are also guided to the most appropriate grant programs, including referrals to dozens of the Commonwealth’s grant programs outside of the One Stop.
In its inaugural round, 267 Expressions of Interest were submitted, outlining 675 projects from 178 communities.
Ninety-one percent of One Stop participants found the feedback received both helpful and clear, and more than 80 percent incorporated the feedback into their final Full Application.
The Expression of Interest Process proved to be beneficial: 82 percent of the 196 successful applications submitted an Expression of Interest.
The Expression of Interest period will remain open through March 18, 2022, and is available to municipalities, public entities, community non-profits, and private companies. While each organization is limited to one EOI, the EOI form allows applicants to seek feedback on up to two project ideas (or up to five project ideas, if submitted by February 4, 2022).
“As we look ahead to the second year of the One Stop, we are implementing important changes, including the addition of new grant programs, to enhance the program’s alignment with the goals detailed in our economic development strategy, Partnerships for Growth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “With the launch of the Expression of Interest portal for this next round, I look forward to the continued collaboration with community leaders as we work to support local efforts to spur housing, workforce development, and private investment.”
First launched in January 2021, the Community One Stop for Growth is a single application portal with a streamlined, collaborative review process conducted by a range of state agencies. In the One Stop’s first year, two-thirds of projects will increase equitable opportunities, nearly 60 percent will create environmental benefits and/or build on a community’s climate resiliency, and 62 percent will bring new housing online or preserve existing affordable housing. Additionally, of the 196 projects awarded, 31 percent were located in a community identified as a Rural Town, Small Town, or both; 45 percent were located in a Housing Choice Community; and 31 percent were located in a Gateway City.
This next round will include a total of 12 grant programs as part of the One Stop, three more than last year: MassWorks; Urban Agenda; Community Planning Grants; Rural and Small Town Development Fund; Housing Choice Community Grants; Massachusetts Downtown Initiative; Brownfields; Site Readiness; Underutilized Properties Program; Commonwealth Places; Real Estate Services; and Collaborative Workspace Programs.
Full Application forms for the One Stop are expected to be available in late January 2022; the deadline for final submissions will be early June.
For more information on the One Stop and the Expression of Interest, including the FY2023 Notice of Funding Availability, which will be published in late January, please visit www.mass.gov/onestop.
While the One Stop for Growth platform is open to cities and towns across the Commonwealth, a new law applies additional eligibility criteria to certain programs for the 175 municipalities that are subject to the new multi-family zoning requirement for MBTA communities.
As prescribed by the Legislature, this new law requires that an “MBTA community” shall have at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right and meets other criteria set forth in the statute.
In addition to the criteria outlined in the statue, this new requirement allows Massachusetts to leverage housing best practices in support of ongoing efforts to address the Commonwealth’s housing crisis. In addition to the need for increased housing production, zoning for multi-family housing and walkable neighborhoods near transit supports ongoing efforts to increase the use of transit and reduce emissions associated with driving.
The law stipulates communities deemed out of compliance will be ineligible for three specific grant programs: the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and the Housing Choice Community Grant Program (both of which are part of the One Stop), and the Local Capital Projects Fund.
DHCD issued preliminary guidance on January 29, 2021. The preliminary guidance provided that MBTA Communities will be deemed to be in compliance with this new section until more detailed compliance criteria are established.
Baker-Polito Administration is releasing draft guidelines for public comment.
In the meantime, in order to be in compliance with the law for the upcoming One Stop grant cycle, MBTA communities must complete the “MBTA Community Information Form” by May 2, 2022. Communities that satisfactorily complete this straightforward online form will be deemed compliant for 2022 while HED/DHCD continues to work toward final compliance criteria guidelines.
Learn more at www.mass.gov/mbtacommunities.