In NYS, $200M in grants for startups hurt by COVID-19

Originally published in Long Island Business News on September 14, 2022.

New York State has launched a $200 million seed-funding grant for early-stage businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The program provides flexible grants and is designed to help those early-stage small and micro-businesses recover in a post-pandemic economy. It aims to ensure that small businesses that opened shortly before or during the COVID-19 pandemic will have the funds to continue to operate and grow.

The program “rounds out $1 billion in flexible funding to support both early-stage, and established small and micro-businesses,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement.

“New York businesses were among the hardest hit nationwide at the height of the pandemic, but with this funding, we’re extending a lifeline to help them continue to grow and operate,” she added.

Applications for the program open Wednesday.

“I encourage all New York business owners to take full advantage and be a part of New York’s remarkable recovery,” Hochul added.

This program builds on the state’s existing $800 million Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, which delivered more than $639 million to over 35,000 small businesses since it launched last year, with ninety percent of funding having gone to minority and women-owned businesses, officials said.

Now, Empire State Development is expanding eligibility for the program, enabling more small businesses to access funding by removing the requirement that businesses show a 25% loss in annual gross receipts from 2019 to 2020. This expanded eligibility is in addition to previous program changes to profitability requirements and revenue thresholds, aimed at serving additional small businesses. The program, which will continue to process applications currently in the pipeline, will close as funding winds down on Sept. 30.  

“The pandemic has had profound impacts on our economy and our small and micro businesses were among the hardest hit, especially in New York State,” Empire State Development President and CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said in a statement.

She said that “the steps taken to expand eligibility and get funding out the door has helped countless businesses stay on track. The $800 million Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program and now the new Seed Funding Grant Program marks unprecedented support for New York State’s small businesses and for our economic success moving forward.”

The state provided this breakdown of its newly announced funding opportunities:

Seed Funding Grant Program: Designed to support New York State small businesses, micro-businesses and for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations that started operations on or after Sept. 1, 2018 and have been operational for at least six months before an application is submitted. Applicants must have between $5,000 and $1 million in gross receipts per year as reflected on their most recent federal business tax return.  More detailed guidelines can be found here.

Awards for eligible businesses are based on their 2020 or 2021 tax returns. Businesses with gross receipts ranging from $5,000 to $49,999.99 can receive $5,000 per business. Businesses with $50,000 to $99,999.99 in gross receipts may be awarded $10,000 per business. Businesses with $100,000 to $1 million in gross receipts will be awarded ten percent of their gross receipts with a maximum grant amount of $25,000 per business. Eligible applicants that have not yet filed a federal tax return can receive $5,000 per business.

Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program: Businesses that have started but not yet completed their current application for the Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program must submit all necessary information by 5:00 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2022. Recognizing the various challenges that small business owners face, New York State provides one-on-one assistance, webinars, a call center, and materials in fourteen languages to ensure greater access to this critical funding. Additionally, ESD’s network of partner organizations that offer support services to entrepreneurs and small businesses will help with pandemic relief grant and loan applications. More information can be found here.

The Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program has as strong track record of ensuring critical funding is going towards those eligible businesses most in need:  Micro-businesses, defined as companies with ten or fewer employees, have received over 98 percent of the awards. Just over 90 percent of the grants have been awarded to minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) and over 47 percent of grant awards went to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses.  To date, the average grant award is $17,783.

“Small Businesses were hit especially hard during the pandemic and the $800 million Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program has been a lifeline during a turbulent time,” State Sen. Anna Kaplan, said in a statement.

“The new Small Business Seed Program will help support newer businesses dealing with unforeseen expenses, and I urge qualified small and micro business to take advantage of this vital program,” said Kaplan, who chairs the Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business.