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New York Forward loan helped me keep the doors open, owner says

Trisha Kusinitz, founder and owner of tkSolutions Coaching

Trisha Kusinitz, founder and owner of tkSolutions Coaching LLC, at her Work-Shop Babylon coworking space and training center in Babylon Village. Credit: James Carbone

Career coach Trisha Kusinitz had just opened a coworking space and career resource center in Babylon village in March when the state shut down all nonessential activity to slow the coronavirus’ spread.

She said she considered closing Work-Shop Babylon for good until a client told her, “You can’t close. People need you now more than ever” given the spike in unemployment. The small business focuses on helping women in the workplace.

Kusinitz said she plans to reopen Work-Shop this month, thanks to a state loan program: the $100 million New York Forward Loan Fund. She said she’s using her loan, valued at between $10,000 and $15,000, to purchase a stand-up desk, office printer, air cleaner and other equipment necessary to convert the 400-square-foot storefront for use by one person at a time or for small classes.

“I don’t think I would be able to continue with a physical space if I hadn’t gotten the loan,” said Kusinitz, founder and owner of tkSolutions Coaching LLC, also in Babylon village. “I would’ve just helped people online. But I didn’t want to give up on this idea [of the storefront] because I can help more people if they know that I’m here for them,” she said.

Kusinitz is among 21 small-business owners and three landlords on Long Island to secure Forward loans so far. Twenty-three of the 24 loans have gone to women and minorities.

Statewide, 61 Forward loans totaling more than $2.3 million have been made by five Community Development Financial Institutions, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday. He launched the loan program on May 26 to help small businesses, nonprofits and landlords who didn’t receive federal coronavirus-relief loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL).

Recipients of PPP and EIDL loans are not eligible for New York Forward loans. However, businesses and nonprofits that received only an EIDL Advance grant of up to $10,000 may apply for a Forward loan, according to a clarification issued last month by Empire State Development, which oversees the Forward program.

Cuomo said Tuesday, “The New York Forward Loan Fund is providing critical assistance to alleviate lost revenue and offset reopening-related expenses, getting these businesses back on their feet.”

ESD has received more than 9,300 applications from eligible borrowers, including 1,963 from Nassau and Suffolk counties. About 60% are from women and minorities, according to the agency.

The processing of loan applications is tied to the state's phased reopening of the economy, and loan underwriting has picked up now that all 10 regions are in the final phase, the agency said. However, some borrowers have declined Forward loans after learning they will receive a PPP loan. Forward loans aren't forgivable and PPP loans are.

Eligible businesses and nonprofits must have 20 or fewer employees. Businesses should have gross revenue of less than $3 million and be profitable. Landlords must have fewer than 50 apartments in each building and own no more than 200 apartments in total.

Forward loans are for up to $100,000 with an interest rate of 3% for businesses and landlords and 2% for nonprofits. Borrowers have five years to pay them back, with the first year being only interest payments. No collateral is required.

More information is available at nwsdy.li/loans. There is no application deadline.

ESD small-business chief Pravina Raghavan said applicants can receive help on college campuses from the Small Business Development Centers and Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers. “You should apply because we’re providing a low-cost working capital loan, so you can get your business back up and running, and we’re giving you time to pay it back,” she said.

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New York Forward Loan Fund

$100 million is available; more than $2.3 million has been lent since May.

Loans are for up to $100,000 with an interest rate of 3% for businesses and landlords and 2% for nonprofits.

Borrowers have five years to pay the loan back, with the first year being only interest payments.

No collateral is required.

Open to small businesses, nonprofits and landlords who haven't received a federal coronavirus-relief loan.

Businesses must have 20 or fewer employees and 2019 gross revenue of less than $3 million.

Landlords must have fewer than 50 apartments in each building and own no more than 200 apartments in total.

24 small-business owners and landlords on Long Island have secured Forward loans so far.

Twenty-three of the 24 loans have gone to women and minorities.

SOURCES: Empire State Development, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office

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