After the COVID-filled days of 2020, small businesses in New Bedford seemed to make a comeback in 2021. Restaurants, bars and retail stores welcomed customers back in, especially during the summer months.

Derek Santos, Executive Director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council Inc., said those businesses came a long way in 2021, thanks in part to support from the city, federal grants, and their own fortitude.

Santos is a guest this week on Townsquare Sunday and said the number of businesses in New Bedford actually increased in 2021, while unemployment fell, though not to the level it was in 2019.

As far as the New Year goes, Santos said there will likely be some headlines generated with the Whaling City Golf Course project, future development along the waterfront related to offshore wind, and continued charges around and on the State Pier property.

He also predicted Mayor Jon Mitchell and the New Bedford City Council will work out any differences regarding federal ARPA funding coming to the city, and that the package contains adequate dollars to help businesses continue their recovery.

Derek Santos admits it has been a tough couple of years for business in New Bedford, but the city continues to move forward. His Townsquare Sunday interview can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a weekly public affairs program heard every Sunday morning on 1420 WBSM.  The program highlighting individuals and organizations striving to make Greater New Bedford a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at

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