The state still has about $300 million in grant funds to help small businesses and for-profit arts groups that were hit hard by the pandemic in 2020, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.

The governor said about 62% of the $800 million COVID-19 Pandemic Small-Business Recovery Grant Program has been distributed to nearly 29,000 applicants statewide. She urged eligible firms and cultural organizations to apply.

“To truly recover from the COVID-19 crisis, our small businesses need a helping hand,” Hochul said last week. “It is imperative that we continue to move funding out efficiently and quickly so businesses can get back on their feet.”

On Long Island, more than $70 million in grants have gone to 2,970 applicants so far, according to Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency.

The grants are between $5,000 and $50,000 per applicant.

To be eligible for help, a business or for-profit arts group must have yearly revenue of up to $2.5 million, 100 or fewer employees and show at least a 25% loss in gross receipts in 2020 compared with 2019, according to ESD, which oversees the recovery grant program.

To apply, go to https://nysmallbusinessrecovery.com/

The state has no plans to expand eligibility to include firms with large losses last year or those that opened after the coronavirus struck, ESD CEO Hope Knight told the State Legislature last month.

Instead, she said Hochul has proposed creating a separate, $200 million Seed Funding Program for businesses that opened in the past two years. The initiative still must be approved by lawmakers.

Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), who heads the Senate small business committee, supports the Seed Funding Program but also wants eligibility for the recovery grants to be widened.

“More must be done to get funds in the hands of those who are still struggling to get by. It’s time to expand this program to reach even more small businesses,” she said.

Last week, the Senate adopted its priorities for the 2022-23 state budget in advance of negotiations with Hochul and the Assembly. The budget is due by April 1.

Among the upper chamber’s priorities is making independent arts contractors eligible for the recovery grant program, not transferring money from the program to another one and $200 million for the Seed Funding Program.

The Assembly also supports $200 million for the new program.

WHERE THE COVID-19 GRANTS WENT

Nassau County: $43.4 million to 1,930 small businesses and for-profit arts groups.

Suffolk County: $26.8 million to 1,040 recipients.

SOURCE: Empire State Development data as March 16

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