Empire State Development’s COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program Provides a Lifeline to Small Businesses Experiencing Economic Hardship Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic 

98% of Awards Have Gone to Businesses with Fewer than 10 Employees and 90% to Have Gone to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that nearly 29,000 small and micro businesses throughout New York State have been awarded over $500 million in grant funds through the COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program. The program was created to provide flexible grant assistance to small businesses, micro-businesses and for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations in the State of New York who have experienced economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Small Businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy, and in order to truly recover from the COVID-19 crisis our small businesses need a helping hand,” Governor Hochul said. “It is imperative that we continue to move funding out efficiently and quickly so businesses can get back on their feet and get back to business.”

Governor Hochul is committed to continuing to support small businesses. She has advanced a proposal to provide up to $200 million to support early-stage small businesses to ensure they are successful long term as New York recovers from the effects of COVID-19. 

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “ESD’s COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program has been a life-line for our small businesses to get steadily back on their feet. We have worked hard to get this funding where it’s most needed and I am grateful for Governor Hochul’s support and also for all of New York’s small business owners who are working every day to rebuild our economy.” 

Micro-businesses—those with ten employees or less—have received 98% of these awards, and businesses that are woman or minority owned have received 90% of awards. These are businesses that have been hit the hardest by the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, and often times have the least access to resources. The average grant award is approximately $17,425.

In August of last year, Governor Hochul expanded the program to include businesses with revenues up to $2.5 million from $500,000 and also increased the limit for businesses that received federal Paycheck Protection Program loans from $100,000 to $250,000, which allowed thousands more small businesses to apply for funding.

Funding is still available for the program. One-on-one assistance, webinars, a call center that has already logged nearly 295,000 calls and materials in 14 languages are examples of support available through Empire State Development, to help small businesses access this critical funding.

To learn more about this and other COVID-19 relief programs, visit https://esd.ny.gov/business-pandemic-recovery-initiative. Empire State Development has a network of partner organizations that provide instruction, training, technical assistance, and support services to entrepreneurs and small businesses statewide that will provide assistance with New York State and federal pandemic relief grant and loan applications. For more information visit https://esd.ny.gov/organizations-available-assist-businesses.

State Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, “So many of our State’s small businesses barely survived the challenges of the pandemic, and the path forward continues to be uncertain as we navigate a recovery that isn’t as simple as any of us would have hoped. Programs like the Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program have been vital to keeping the doors open at thousands of small businesses across the State, but more must be done to get funds in the hands of those who are still struggling to get by. It’s time to expand this program to reach even more small businesses, and we must enact Governor Hochul’s proposal to support newly formed small businesses that are trying to get off the ground.”

Assemblymember Al Stirpe said, “As a former small-business owner, I know how difficult it is to turn an idea into a successful business during normal times, let alone a global pandemic and unprecedented economic hardships. The COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program was a critical part of New York’s pandemic response, providing assistance to microbusinesses and MWBEs as well as those who didn’t qualify for federal assistance or needed additional support. As chair of the Assembly Small Business Committee, I met directly with business owners throughout the state to help craft a grant program that directly addressed their most urgent needs. The grant program has reached a significant milestone and I look forward to seeing more eligible businesses use this vital grant program including those who are in economically disadvantaged areas. I thank Governor Kathy Hochul for her continued support of our state’s business community on the road to recovery and her renewed push to strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit in our state. However, our work is far from over. I’ll continue working with state leaders and stakeholders to help provide additional relief to struggling businesses in the 2022-23 state budget.” 

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.