An $800 million grant program for small businesses that have been struggling to survive the pandemic will close at the end of this month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.
Applicants for the COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program are facing a deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30 to submit all the required paperwork. “New applications are being accepted until the deadline,” a spokeswoman for Empire State Development said on Tuesday.
The program, begun in June 2021, has helped more than 35,000 small firms across the state, including about 3,520 on Long Island, state records show.
More than $639 million of the $800 million has been distributed, including $82.5 million locally.
Hochul said 90% of the grants have gone to minority and women entrepreneurs and more than 98% have been awarded to small businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
ESD, the state’s primary business-aid agency, recently expanded eligibility for the program by removing the requirement that applicants show on their tax return either a 25% loss in gross receipts between 2019 and 2020 or a 2019 profit.
ESD said, “As a result, existing applicants will be reexamined for eligibility and contacted by Lendistry,” the California-based lender that was hired by ESD to run the grant program. Applicants will be contacted via email.
“Please do not submit a new application,” ESD told businesses that have already applied for a grant. “Existing applicants that submit a new application may be detected as potential fraud and disrupt the re-examination process.”
Previously, Hochul directed ESD to raise the revenue cap for eligible businesses from $500,000 to $2.5 million in either 2019 or 2020 and to allow recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loans of not more than $250,000 to participate in the state grant program.
These actions have “helped countless businesses stay on track” in uncertain economic times, said ESD CEO Hope Knight.
The grants are between $5,000 and $50,000 per applicant based on its annual gross receipts.
The funds may be used for expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021, including payroll, rent and mortgage payments, utility bills and personal protective equipment.
To be eligible, a business must have opened on or before March 1, 2019 and still be operating. Those that opened later may apply for a companion relief program — the $200 million Seed Funding Grant Program — which began this month, Knight said.