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NY pension fund to loan $50M to small, struggling businesses

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, seen last year, said

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, seen last year, said he is seeking permission from regulators to provide an additional $100 million in pension money for loans. Credit: AP/Richard Drew

The state pension fund is putting $50 million toward Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses harmed by the coronavirus pandemic, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said Monday. 

The Common Retirement Fund money will be lent to qualifying small businesses across the state by Pursuit in Albany, a private lender formerly called the New York Business Development Corp. The loans are for up to $350,000 per applicant and 25% must go to minority- and women-owned businesses, he said.

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DiNapoli also said he is seeking permission from the U.S. Small Business Administration and other regulators to provide an additional $100 million in pension money to Pursuit for PPP loans.

“New York small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges that have put more than a million men and women out of work,” he said in a statement. “We’re doing what we can to help small businesses keep employees on their payroll, even if they may have paused operations.”

DiNapoli is the sole trustee of the Common Retirement Fund for state and local government employees, valued at $210.5 billion as of a year ago. He said the PPP loan money would generate a return to the pension fund "consistent with U.S. Treasury securities."

The PPP reopened Monday after exhausting $349 billion in federal loan guarantees between April 3 and April 16. President Donald Trump signed into law last week a bill authorizing an additional $310 billion in guarantees.

The PPP consists of banks and other private lenders making loans of up to $10 million, generally to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The interest rate is 1% with a two-year term and the entire amount is forgivable in some instances. Newsday has secured a PPP loan.

Pursuit CEO Patrick J. MacKrell said it has been working with the state pension fund for years, providing loans to more than 1,000 businesses statewide.

The $50 million commitment “will allow us to provide increased access” to PPP “especially for those that experienced difficulty accessing the program through their bank,” he said.

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