NYS: $800 million COVID-19 grant program for small firms opens June 10

Originally published in Newsday on May 25, 2021.

$800 million in grants will be available to help small businesses recover from the pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday.

The state will begin taking applications next month for $800 million in grants to help the smallest businesses recover from the pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, will open the online application portal on June 10 for the COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program. The funding was included in the 2021-22 state budget that was adopted last month.

Besides small businesses, the grants will be available to small for-profit arts and cultural organizations.

The maximum grant amount is $50,000 per applicant and will serve as reimbursement of employee wages, rent and mortgage payments, taxes, utility bills and other operating expenses from the pandemic. The minimum grant is $5,000.

"This critical funding will help ensure…stability for small businesses so they can help play a role in New York’s economic resurgence" from the coronavirus-induced recession, Cuomo said.

He estimated more than 330,000 small businesses are eligible for the grants. He said priority will be given to applications from businesses that are owned by women, veterans and members of minority groups or located in poor neighborhoods.

More information may be found at NYSBusinessRecovery.ny.gov.

The grant amount will be based on the applicant’s 2019 gross receipts and serve as reimbursement for expenses incurred between March 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021. The expenses may include the purchase of masks, gloves, face shields and other personal protective equipment and improvements to ventilation systems to slow the virus' spread.

Separately, the ESD board has approved $10 million in grants for Small Business Development Centers and Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers across the state to help business owners apply for state and federal COVID-relief programs. Locally, there are development centers at Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University, and assistance centers at Hofstra University and Suffolk County Community College.

ESD CEO Eric Gertler told Newsday on Tuesday, "The economic devastation caused by COVID-19 was far reaching, but especially harmful to small and micro businesses, which are the backbone of the state's economy. The Small Business Recovery Grant Program will provide much-needed relief."

State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), who championed the grant program as chair of the Senate’s small business committee, agreed, saying some firms won’t survive without state aid. "I urge every small business owner to learn more and to apply for the assistance they need and deserve," she said.