Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

NY Fund Forward to continue small business loan program

New York has expanded qualification criteria to enable more small businesses and nonprofits to qualify for the New York Forward Loan Fund 2 program.

The enhanced fund allows qualified recipients with fewer than 100 employees and less than $5 million in gross annual revenue to apply for loans up to $150,000 with fix-rate interest.

The fund will be in place for the next eight years and will focus on small businesses and nonprofits, particularly those in low-income and historically underbanked communities and rural areas.

Loans will provide working capital to cover a variety of expenses, from payroll and marketing to facility renovations.

Free support services also will be available throughout the life of the loan.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the most important drivers of workforce equity and opportunity,” Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-Rochester) said in a news release. “Many times, they are excluded or ineligible from grants and funding resources. As a small business owner myself, I have experienced how this limits expansion and growth.”

The original New York Forward Loan Fund, created to provide affordable credit options in response to COVID-19, processed over 1,700 loans totaling $97 million in pandemic relief to small businesses. More than 50 percent of those businesses had never applied for a business loan in the past.

New York Forward 2 aims to disburse $150 million initially, with plans to recycle and lend additional funds over the life of the program.

Visit the program website for more information, including how to apply for a loan.

[email protected]/(585) 653-4020

State expands eligibility for pandemic recovery grants

The state of New York has expanded eligibility for the $800 million COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program in order to help more small businesses apply for funding.

Beginning this week, businesses with revenues up to $2.5 million can apply for grants. The previous threshold for revenues was $500,000. In addition, the limitation for businesses that received Federal Paycheck Protection Program loans has been increased from $100,000 to $250,000.

“Supporting the small businesses across our state that got hit hard by the pandemic is a top priority for my administration,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “We simply cannot have a full economic recovery if the small business community continues struggling to survive. With the Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program opening up to a greater pool of businesses, I strongly urge all the owners who qualify to submit their application so they can access this funding.”

Launched in June, the program initially focused on small and micro-businesses across New York state, which largely were left out of federal business recovery initiatives. To date, more than $48 million has been awarded to roughly 2,380 small and micro-businesses in each of the 10 regions of the state. The modifications ensure additional small businesses can more quickly access funding through the program.

“As businesses take the necessary steps to resume full operations, I know that support from the state is vital to their success. As a small business owner, I know first-hand the struggles faced by owners and their employees,” said Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-Rochester), chair of the Assembly Economic Development Committee. “The expansion of this program couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, as unemployment benefits are soon to end for those affected by the pandemic. I know that a stronger future for our families depends on creating healthy businesses with good-paying jobs and this program will help do just that.”

Empire State Development and Lendistry, the minority-led Community Development Financial Institution that was selected to administer the program, will continue to accept and review applications. All current applicants — those who have not finished their applications, have not uploaded documents or have incomplete documentation — are encouraged to finalize their applications as soon as possible. Previously ineligible small businesses may start applying now, and those applications will start being processed on Sept. 8. More information, including program guidelines and the grant application, can be found here.

Grants for a minimum award of $5,000 and a maximum award of $50,000 are calculated based on a New York state business’ annual gross receipts for 2019. Reimbursable COVID-19 related expenses must have been incurred between March 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021, and can include payroll costs; commercial rent or mortgage payments for New York state-based property; payment of local property or school taxes; insurance and utility costs; costs of personal protective equipment necessary to protect worker and consumer health and safety; costs for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or other machinery and equipment; and supplies and materials necessary for compliance with COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

RTS, elected officials call for increased transportation funding

New York state lawmakers and the Regional Transit Service (RTS) on Friday called for increased funding for public transit in the state budget, citing the role of transit in the recovery and growth of the economy. State Sens. Samra Brouk and Jeremy Cooney, and Assembly members Harry Bronson, Sarah Clark, Jennifer Lunsford and Demond Meeks joined RTS CEO Bill Carpenter for the press conference.

All of New York’s transit systems, including RTS, are asking for their funding to be increased by 10 percent above the level included in the 2020-21 enacted budget. This is consistent with the request from the transit systems for a 50 percent increase in funding over 5 years.

“Investment in transit is good for community growth and driving many from poverty to prosperity,” said Assemblyman Bronson, D-Rochester. “Investment in transit delivers more connections to jobs, health care, education; more reliable service; and creates and retains thousands of jobs in the state’s transit manufacturing and supply industry. For transit to be successful in meeting the state’s goals, greater investment in both service and infrastructure are essential.”

When COVID-19 emerged in the Rochester region, many businesses and organizations closed or transitioned to working from home, but throughout the pandemic, the public transit system kept running, officials noted. RTS responded immediately to the crisis, transporting essential workers, among other things.

“Public transportation provides a lifeline to access jobs, food and health care, and plays a key role in helping our community reopen, recover and grow,” Carpenter said. “Robust transit service will drive growth in jobs and the economy, address climate change, improve social equity, and move people from poverty to prosperity. That is why we need more funding. On behalf of the RTS team and our customers, I thank Gov. Cuomo and our representatives in the state Legislature for their support, and for their efforts to accelerate investment in transit.”

In addition to state operating assistance for transit being reduced over the past year, RTS saw significant losses of ridership and revenue. At the same time, RTS’ budget absorbed the increased costs of protective equipment for employees and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of vehicles and facilities to help keep people safe.

“The Regional Transit Service provides a service for so many in our community that is critical to their day-to-day lives,” said Assemblywoman Clark, D-Rochester. “Throughout the pandemic, at a time where other transit systems across the state cut back services and raised costs, RTS displayed incredible leadership and remained committed to providing essential services throughout the Greater Rochester region, while also maintaining the safety of riders and transit personnel alike. RTS stepped up to meet these challenging times, now the state must step up and provide them with the resources they need. State operating assistance must be restored and increased to reflect the growing needs of RTS. Now is the time for the state to demonstrate its commitment to public transit services and invest in an equitable recovery for all.”

Regional Transit Service is a regional transit authority established by New York state with more than 900 employees who serve customers and business partners in Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne and Wyoming counties.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Legislation introduced to reduce childhood poverty

Legislation has been introduced by Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-Rochester, and Rep. Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, to reduce child poverty statewide by 50 percent over the next decade.

The “Childhood Poverty Reduction Act,” if passed, would be the most significant commitment of any state nationwide codifying into law a childhood poverty reduction goal. Children’s advocacy groups that are part of a statewide antipoverty coalition partnered with state officials and community partners on Thursday to announce the proposed legislation.

Larry Marx
Larry Marx

“Poverty is not destiny,” said the Children’s Agenda CEO Larry Marx. “It’s a moral outrage that a state as wealthy as New York has as many children living in poverty as we do; cutting that in half over 10 years is entirely realistic. England did just that from 1994 – 2008, and they did it with tax credits, expanding childcare, Pre-K and home visiting programs for low-income and working families. The public policy decisions New York state makes or fails to make in these same areas from now until 2030 will determine the trajectory of the health, education and success for hundreds of thousands of this generation’s children.”

During Thursday’s event, advocates asked political candidates to sign a pledge to support the legislation and for elected officials to co-sponsor it and act immediately to take steps to reduce child poverty statewide. In addition, advocates outlined ways the community can support the Child Poverty Prevention Act, including joining the Children’s Agenda’s Advocacy Network.

Nearly 3 million New Yorkers, including 895,000 children, live in poverty. One in five kids statewide struggles to meet basic needs. The issue has been compounded by COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn, plunging an estimated additional 325,000 New York children into or near poverty between March and July, according to the United Hospital Fund. Rochester stands as the city with the 3rd highest child poverty rate of any nationwide.

“The effects of child poverty on health are pervasive and begin at birth and continue into adulthood and retirement age,” said Patrick Brophy M.D., chair in the Department of Pediatrics at University of Rochester Medical Center. “Low-income children are at greater risk of suffering from low birth weight, asthma, hypertension and obesity. Lack of adequate care means chronic health conditions worsen and children aren’t able to thrive at school, furthering the gap between rich and poor.

“We fully support assembly member Bronson’s commitment to providing the resources and support for low-income families and children to live healthy and secure lives.”

The Child Poverty Reduction Act would establish a Child Poverty Reduction Advisory Council tasked with developing a plan to cut New York’s child poverty rate in half over 10 years. The Council would explore expanding specific policies, making new recommendations and releasing reports to make sure that New York meets its goal. The Council would develop and publish a timeline with yearly benchmarks.

Policy proposals reviewed by the Advisory Council will include, but will not be limited to:

• Strengthening and expanding New York’s Earned Income Tax Credit to align with the state’s minimum wage; cover more tax-paying immigrants and young, childless adults; and distribute quarterly payments;
• Expanding and strengthening New York’s child tax credit to include young children and eliminate the minimum income threshold;
• Expanding work training and employment programs;
• Increasing access to subsidized housing vouchers;
• Expanding access to subsidized childcare;

The legislation also would require an evaluation of the effects that any adjustment or reduction by the director of the budget will have on child poverty and requires the evaluation to be made available to the public.

“I grew up in a family of 12 children in a rural town outside of Binghamton,” Bronson said. “My mom and dad both worked full-time jobs and worked the family farm to provide for our families. We barely had two nickels to rub together, so I have a real-world experience of dealing with poverty. Whether rural or urban poverty, we know the detrimental effects of living in poverty can last years, if not a lifetime; this is especially true for children who are raised in poverty.

“But fortunately, we also know that we can take steps today to help lift families up out of poverty and into a brighter future,” Bronson added. “That’s why I’m proud to join my colleague, Sen. Ramos, in sponsoring legislation that will put strategies in place to reduce childhood poverty by 50 percent in five years. The Childhood Poverty Reduction Act will help our families here in Rochester and throughout New York State.”

Children’s Advocacy Coalition Members statewide include Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund-NY, Citizens’ Committee for Children, Prevent Child Abuse NY, Westchester Children’s Association, The Education Trust-New York and Robin Hood. Monroe County community partners include Action for a Better Community, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer