Daily News

Eastern States Exposition Receives Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Eastern States Exposition (ESE) President and CEO Eugene Cassidy was joined by U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Robert Nelson, director of the Small Business Assoc. (SBA) Massachusetts District Office, on Monday to announce that ESE is the recipient of a Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG).

These federal grants are given to venues in the entertainment realm such as concert halls, theaters, and other attractions that suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big E, North America’s fifth-largest fair in 2019, did not take place in 2020.

“For more than 100 years, the Eastern States Exposition, home of The Big E, has welcomed millions of visitors to enjoy exhibits, entertainment, and agriculture,” said Neal, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “Due to the pandemic, the Big E was forced to close its gates for the 2020 season, resulting in extensive loss. I advocated fiercely on their behalf to the Small Business Administration for swift approval of the Big E’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application. Today, just weeks after almost 1.5 million people visited the 2021 fair, we celebrate the authorization of $9 million to the Big E. Congratulations to Gene Cassidy and his team for this tremendous award.”

Added Cassidy, “we are grateful to Congressman Neal for his extraordinary efforts and for his support and advocacy through this arduous process. This grant breathes life into the fair as it recovers from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The annual economic impact of the Eastern States Exposition is more than $681 million. It accounts for 7,506 full-time jobs resulting in $319 million in personal income and generates 3,500 temporary jobs during the Big E alone, and 1,992 people choose to live in the region because of the ESE’s presence and employment opportunities.

The growth in income, personal consumption, and industry sales spurred on by the ESE contributes in a significant way to Massachusetts tax revenues as well — $7.2 million in income-tax revenue and $9.6 million in sales-tax revenue.