State Budget Includes Small Business Pandemic Relief Programs

Originally published in Port Washington News on April 29, 2021.

Last week, Senator Anna M. Kaplan Chair of the New York State Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, met with several local elected officials, small business owners and chambers of commerce from across Nassau County to celebrate the inclusion of more than $1 billion in grants and relief for small businesses in the recently enacted New York 2021-22 state budget.

“The pandemic has been devastating to New York’s small business community, and they need our help if they’re going to survive these challenging times,” Kaplan said. “I’m proud to have fought to bring back over a billion dollars in grants and other assistance for our small businesses in the State budget, and as the program rolls out statewide, I encourage every small business owner to apply for the assistance they need and deserve.”

Small Business Initiatives:
$800 million in direct grants will be provided to small businesses who lost revenue or suffered economic harm as a result of the pandemic. Businesses with 100 or fewer employees will qualify, and the program will be designed to ensure that micro-businesses with 10 or fewer employees are not left out of the process. Grant funding can be used to pay rent, mortgage costs, operational expenses, payroll, insurance, utilities, repayment of local property or school taxes associated with a business’s location, PPE expenses, ventilation upgrades required to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations and any other documented COVID-19 related costs incurred over the last year.

Other small business initiatives included are the New York State Restaurant Resiliency Program, which will give $25 million in grants to restaurants providing free meals to economically disadvantaged individuals in economically distressed communities to cover their operational and material costs of meal preparation, provisions and delivery. The Arts and Cultural Organization Recovery Grant Programs, which gives $40 million in grants to nonprofit arts and cultural institutions for operating costs, mortgage/rent, equipment and other related costs. As well as the NYC Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit. This two-year, $100 million tax credit program will help the Broadway tourism sector to recover from COVID shutdowns and the Restaurant Return to Work Credit, which provides $35 million in refundable tax credits for restaurants that were subject to an extended ban on indoor dining.

“I am proud to stand with Senator Kaplan to highlight this tremendous investment in small businesses,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said during the event. “This will allow the shops in our downtowns, arts and entertainment venues and many others recover and bring back jobs. We are on the other side of this pandemic and support like this, coupled with our robust vaccine rollout will fast track us on our road to recovery. Encouraging all eligible to seize this opportunity to boost your business.”

Kaplan announced that the state is also seeking to form grassroot partnerships potentially with various Chambers of Commerce throughout the state to ensure that every business, no matter how small, gets the help they need.

“It’s critical that these grants get in the hands of the small businesses who need them right away, and I’m thrilled that Empire State Development is working to develop a grassroots outreach effort, potentially including Chambers of Commerce as trained outreach experts, as a means of reaching every small business in our community,” Kaplan said.

“We are very appreciative of Senator Kaplan’s dedication to small business,” Port Washington Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Greco Cohen said. “She understands that small business is the lifeblood of our community and needs as much financial assistance as possible, especially as they continue to try to stay afloat after the past very difficult year.”

Holly Byrne, executive director of the Port Washington Business Improvement District (BID) attended the event and thanked Senator Kaplan for her efforts in providing much-needed funds to small businesses.

“The Port Washington Business Improvement District thanks Senator Kaplan for leading this initiative to support the smallest and most vulnerable of our local businesses,” Byrne said. “Especially helpful is the appropriation of funds for outreach and technical assistance so business owners can access the funds available.”

Byrne explained how important it is for even the smallest of businesses to be able to receive assistance as well.

“A lot of people at the beginning of this mess said ‘I can do this,’ but it’s taken so much longer than anticipated and the recovery in some sectors isn’t happening yet so to have this extra layer will actually help those that weren’t able to get anything at the beginning or have really tapped out their reserves.”

Last year, the BID along with several other groups helped to create Port Outdoors, an event which encourages the community to take part in outdoor dining, listen to music and patronize small businesses. Port Outdoors will be returning once again next month for a longer season.

“We’re spreading it out for a longer season, so that’s really exciting,” Byrne said. “But what I really envision is this feeling of Thursday nights the night to go out,” Byrne said. “If you don’t make it to the zone thats closed off but you do take-out from a different restaurant—awesome, then I’ve hit my mark.”

Port Outdoors will run from May 6 to Oct. 7 on every other Thursday in alternating zones. Additionally, the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce is collaborating with the BID to offer their very own Port Washington exclusive app called Try Port First.

“I think this can be a game changer as well,” Byrne said. “It is something that’s dynamic and that we can personalize. So we can have something about Port Outdoors, or we can use it later when it’s Port Holiday Magic, or for Halloween on Main Street. So all of the other events and incentives that we bring we will continue to use and boost with the app.”

Visit the app store to download the Try Port First application. For a full line up of dates and street closures taking place during Port Outdoors, visit