Small Businesses Experiencing Financial Hardship Due to COVID-19 Can Now Apply for Grants of Up to $50,000

Governor Proposed Legislation Waiving Taxes on Grants

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that applications are now open for the $800 million COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program. The program reimburses New York small businesses with grants of up to $50,000 for COVID-related expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021. Grants will be awarded to small and micro businesses and small for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations, with priority being given to socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, including minority- and women-owned business enterprises, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses, and businesses located in economically distressed communities.

“Small businesses are one of the most critical components of New York’s economy and were disproportionately impacted by the economic devastation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we build New York back better than it was before, this program will help these small businesses -particularly those with socially or economically disadvantaged owners -regain an economic foothold so they can forge ahead toward a brighter, more prosperous future.” 

More than 330,000 small and micro businesses are potentially eligible for this program, including 57 percent of the state’s certified MWBEs. The application site for the program will be powered by Lendistry, a minority-led Community Development Financial Institution. The state will also be launching an ad campaign to promote this program to small businesses, as well as an array of other pandemic recovery programs.

Grants will be for a minimum award of $5,000 and a maximum award of $50,000 and will be calculated based on a New York State business’ annual gross receipts for 2019. Reimbursable COVID-19 related expenses must have been incurred between March 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021 and can include:

  • Payroll costs
  • Commercial rent or mortgage payments for NYS-based property
  • Payment of local property or school taxes
  • Insurance costs
  • Utility costs
  • Costs of personal protection equipment necessary to protect worker and consumer health and safety
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning cost
  • Other machinery or equipment costs
  • Supplies and materials necessary for compliance with COVID-19 health and safety protocols

On June 8, Governor Cuomo proposed legislation to waive taxes on grants from the COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program. ESD has created a website —NYSBusinessRecovery.ny.gov —to highlight the various resources available to support small businesses seeking pandemic relief. The website will be continuously updated as more details and funding information become available.

The Empire State Development Board of Directors approved $10 million in technical assistance grants for New York’s statewide entrepreneurship assistance centers,small business development centers, and 26 additional community organizations and chambers of commerce to help small businesses and for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations secure COVID-related financial assistance and grants available through existing state and federal programs.

This network of service providers will work directly with small businesses, guiding them through available funding sources and helping them navigate the application process. Recognizing that pandemic-induced economic hardship has disproportionately affected micro and small businesses, and that application processes can be difficult to navigate -especially due to a language barrier -the partners will use these funds to hire or contract more staff for one-on-one, direct counseling services. 

Education materials and applications will be offered in 12 languages in addition to English. This support, along with increased technical assistance staffing, will position these providers to better assist businesses and organizations in applying for funding through the New York State’s COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or any other available federal economic recovery program, catalyzing our state and local economies as more businesses and communities reopen.