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Erie County boosts small businesses with microenterprise loan/grant program

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Fri, Jul 10th 2020 10:40 am

Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, Erie County Business Task Force collaborate to boost business

Maximum assistance available to small business owners is $35,000; funding available to businesses with five employees or fewer

The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (ECDEP), in conjunction with the Erie County Business Task Force, is boosting small business in Erie County with the microenterprise loan/grant program, providing microenterprises with five employees or fewer up to $35,000 in a loan/grant to build their business. The Erie County Community Development Consortium, comprised of 34 local municipalities of various sizes, has received $1,865,506 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the federal CARES Act to be used to assist small businesses through the loan/grant program.

Small businesses have been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant “PAUSE” orders issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Erie County Business Task Force, formed in early April to provide immediate and targeted business assistance to local businesses struggling to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, is working with ECDEP to extend critical assistance to business owners.

“The microenterprise loan/grant program is another way that we are working to help small businesses in Erie County, giving them a small amount of Community Development Block Grant funding that can be used for anything the business needs, including working capital, start-up funds or equipment. In this way, small business start-ups can gain a foothold in the local market and start to grow,” Poloncarz said. “Small business is the backbone of our economy, powering communities countywide and providing jobs to thousands of residents. They have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the ECIDA and task force are teaming up to provide assistance where possible. We all succeed when small business succeeds, and this program is available to microenterprises seeking ways to grow in Erie County.”

The microenterprise loan/grant program, formerly a full 2% loan program for small businesses, is now a 60/40 loan vs. grant program that can be for as little as $5,000 or up to $35,000 with the loan administration portion handled by the ECIDA. Over $1.34 million in Community Development Block Grant funding through the federal CARES Act is available to small businesses through this fund, and loan/grant recipients have a six-month grace period before beginning repayment.

Businesses in the cities of Lackawanna and Tonawanda; the towns of Alden, Aurora, Boston, Brant, Clarence, Colden, Collins, Concord, Eden, Elma, Evans, Grand Island, Holland, Lancaster, Marilla, Newstead, North Collins, Orchard Park, Sardinia, Wales and West Seneca; and the villages of Akron, Angola, Depew, East Aurora, Farnham, Gowanda, Lancaster, North Collins, Orchard Park and Springville are eligible for this funding. These municipalities are located within the Erie County CDBG consortium.

The first small business to be approved for funding under the new formula is the Creekside Market in the Town of Collins, owned by Alan Butzer. He is expanding the roadside market into a year-round business selling fruits, vegetables, and local and seasonal items. The loan/grant of $35,000 he was approved for will be used for the acquisition of refrigerated and frozen display cases, an ice cream freezer, a milkshake machine, inventory to expand the market’s grocery options, various other equipment and signage.

Task Force Co-Chair Scott Pallotta, the CEO of manufacturer Zehnder Rittling, added, “The task force has been successful working together in a public/private partnership to develop this innovative way to help micro businesses. The success of businesses like the Creekside Market will only help to accelerate WNY’s economic recovery.”

The Erie County Business Task Force will also be investing an additional $100,000 for planning studies or technical assistance to help small businesses deal with the effects of the pandemic. These services will include assistance for business owners with their reopening and strategies on how to best plan for the future.

For more information on the Microenterprise Loan/Grant Program, click here.

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