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New state grant program to help struggling small businesses

Jessica Cain
Assemblyman Al Stirpe announces new state grant program

Starting Thursday, small businesses in central New York will be able to apply for their chance at state grants of up to $50,000. It’s part of the “New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program.”

The new grants are designed to help small and microbusinesses, as well as for-profit arts and cultural organizations. Priority will be given to socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, including minorities, women, and veterans.

Rob Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, said the goal is to help businesses who have not been eligible for other state programs. 

"It's critical that we do all we can to support businesses at all ends of the spectrum,” said Simpson.  “Everyone's been impacted by this pandemic, and everyone deserves support."

New York Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Cicero), chair of the Assembly Small Business Committee, was one of the state lawmakers who held hearings on what small businesses would need to survive the pandemic. He said business owners told them they needed grants, not loans, to stay afloat.

“Business owners have seen their work and their dreams just disappear,” said Stirpe.  “I don’t know how many thousands of businesses have closed permanently, but it’s thousands, and that’s just a tragedy.

Stirpe said he expects central New York to receive between 4% and 5% of the $800 million earmarked for the program, and he hopes it will indirectly help the whole area.

"We are anticipating this will help many businesses who are too small to qualify, and in turn will put more money into the local economy," said Stirpe.

Indaria Jones owns the Creators Lounge in Syracuse, a co-working space where entrepreneurs and business owners can work alongside each other. She said state grants could make a big difference to struggling businesses. 

"The pandemic just added on to problems that a lot of disadvantaged businesses already had, so I love that the program is very focused," said Jones.

Applications will be accepted until the money is gone, but officials believe it could go quickly, so interested business owners should apply as soon as possible.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.