The Town of Babylon has launched a program to give $3 million in grants to businesses and nonprofits that are still struggling due to COVID-19.
Babylon is using a chunk of the $13.5 million it received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act stimulus bill to help local small businesses, nonprofits and veterans groups. Each business or group is eligible for up to $49,500, and the money does not have to be repaid.
"No politics; this is going to be a townwide effort to get this money out into the street, out into the hands of the people who need it," Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said during a news conference Wednesday in Copiague announcing the Direct Support Program.
The grants are designed to help businesses that have sustained revenue losses or faced unexpected costs due to the pandemic, Schaffer said. For nonprofits, the money is intended to offset the drop in fundraising monies that many groups experienced due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The town will score and prioritize applications based on five criteria: financial standing prior to March 30, 2020; negative impact the shutdown has had on operations and finances; planned use of funds; minority- and women- or veteran-owned businesses; and location in an economically distressed community. Businesses that have closed may be able to receive money, Schaffer said, but those that have already received funds through state and federal programs for COVID-19 relief are not eligible.
"We were building up the chamber really well before this hit and we went down to practically nobody," said Bob Lucchesse, president of the West Babylon Chamber of Commerce. "This will help us out."
Town officials said that the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses and nonprofits reverberates through communities, as these groups often support local events and scholarships.
"It’s important that we take this money and give it back to the community, to people who give so much to us," said Viscel Moore, director of the town’s beautification program who will also be heading up the Direct Support Program.
The grant application is on the town’s website and is available in several different languages. The town has a dedicated phone line, 631-957-4488, and email address, email@example.com for program questions.