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Higgins & Poloncarz announce $1.3 million in federal investments made in local small businesses through Erie County's microenterprises loan/grant program


Thu, Nov 3rd 2022 09:25 am

Funding awarded through the CARES Act was provided to businesses with 5 employees or fewer; Stack Burger in Lackawanna was one of 65 small businesses to receive assistance

√ Limited funding still available

On Wednesday, Congressman Brian Higgins and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz visited Stack Burger in Lackawanna to highlight efforts to boost small businesses in Erie County through the microenterprise loan/grant program. The initiative provides small businesses with five employees or fewer with loan/grant funding of up to $35,000 thanks to resources made available through the federal CARES Act.

“For the smallest of small businesses, the grueling work of customer acquisition and day-to-day operations limits the time and resources available to make long-term investments that can help owner-operated businesses get ahead,” Higgins said. “Thanks to this federal investment and initiative led by Erie County, entrepreneurs have an extra boost to help increase inventory, purchase equipment, or improve technology.”

Poloncarz said, “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. Small businesses have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and Erie County, the ECIDA and the business task force are teaming up to offer assistance where possible. We all succeed when small business succeeds, and this program is available to microenterprises seeking ways to grow in Erie County.”

Stack Burger owner Joe Maurino added, “I am very appreciative for Erie County’s micro-loan/grant program, which has helped my business during the pandemic when we saw a decrease in revenue. This program provided a much-needed financial boost.”

The Erie County Community Development Consortium received $4,326,655 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds in 2020 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The consortium used the funding to assist neighborhood food pantries, invest in parks and playgrounds, make improvements to senior and community centers, and provide this relief to small businesses.

The microenterprise loan/grant program for small businesses, an effort led by the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning in conjunction with the Erie County Business Task Force, is a 50/50 loan/grant program that can be for as little as $5,000 or up to $35,000, with the loan administration portion handled by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. Recipients have a six-month grace period before beginning repayment.

Since December of 2020, 65 small businesses have been assisted with microloans and grants for a total of $1,318,706.

There is still $450,000 in federal CDBG funds available for this program. Businesses located within the Erie County CDBG consortium are eligible to apply (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). For more information, visit: https://www3.erie.gov/economicdevelopment/community-development-block-grant-programs.

The consortium is comprised of 34 municipalities that receive formula-based federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the CDBG, HOME Investment Partnerships Grant, and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs to assist low-income residents. Municipalities within Erie County with a population over 50,000, including the towns of Amherst, Tonawanda, Cheektowaga and Hamburg, plus the City of Buffalo, receive HUD funding directly.

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