Small business grant program now open
The ARPA-funded initiative will invest $750,000 in Albany businesses and entrepreneurs
ALBANY, NY: A grant program launched today will invest $750,000 in Albany businesses and entrepreneurs as they work to cover COVID-related expenses, grow their expertise, and expand business services. Applications for round one of the Small Business Vitality Assistance program’s three rounds are now being accepted, with $250,000 in flexible financial assistance being provided. Funded through the City of Albany’s $80.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act award, and available to businesses within Albany’s city limits, the grant will be administered through the Central Avenue Business Improvement District, in partnership with the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District, Arbor Hill Development Corporation, and Small Business Development Center. Complete program details and applications can be found at businessvitalityalbany.org.
Business owners are invited to attend upcoming Small Business Resource Open Houses to learn more about the Small Business Vitality Assistance program, in addition to other grant and business service programs available to new and existing business owners in the City of Albany. The events are being held at 6:00 PM on January 12 at the Albany Housing Authority (200 S Pearl Street) and on January 19 at the Albany Public Library Delaware Avenue branch (331 Delaware Avenue).
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted 96 percent of small businesses nationally, and according to Goldman Sachs surveys, 44 percent of small business owners have less than three months of cash reserves, a number even higher – 51 percent – among Black-owned small businesses, and 29 percent of respondents noted that they’d recently experienced difficulty raising capital or higher borrowing costs. By providing Albany’s business owners with funding, the Small Business Vitality Assistance program offers the opportunity to pay COVID-related debt including back rent, utilities, and vendor bills, in addition to enrolling in an entrepreneur boot camp or other related training courses, implement technology upgrades, and more, without having to spend savings or apply for additional loans.
The Small Business Vitality Assistance program will provide assistance in three separate categories: COVID recovery grants, entrepreneur class/program tuition, and technical assistance. Grants of $2,000-$15,000 will be awarded, with individual funding based on the application that meets the basic eligibility requirements, demonstrated need, and business fluency.
Eligible uses for the Small Business Vitality Assistance program include:
Back rent or mortgage payments
Past-due commercial insurance
Past due utilities
Outstanding vendor bills
Implementing new services (delivery, online purchasing, etc.)
Entrepreneurial training courses
Information technology services
A complete list of eligible and ineligible uses can be found at businessvitalityalbany.org. Future rounds’ priorities may evolve as business needs evolve. Changes will be announced on businessvitalityalbany.org and on partner organizations’ social media channels.
Businesses eligible for Small Business Vitality Assistance must be located in the City of Albany, have no more than 20 full-time or full-time equivalent employees, be a registered New York State business, be engaged in activities that are legal under New York and federal law, and be in good standing with local, state, and federal taxing and licensing authorities. Ineligible entities include nonprofits, franchises, businesses located outside the City of Albany, businesses with more than 20 full-time or full-time equivalent employees, and Restaurant Relief Fund recipients; additionally, Small Business Vitality Assistance funding cannot be applied to items previously funded through Capitalize Albany Corporation’s Façade Improvement Grant.
Businesses located within a Qualified Census Tract within the City of Albany as identified by the US Dept of Treasury do not need to provide evidence of COVID-related financial hardship to be eligible to receive assistance. Those located outside of a Qualified Census Tract will be required to show one or more of the following to be eligible to receive assistance: decreased revenue or gross receipts, financial insecurity, increased costs, capacity to weather financial hardship, challenges covering payroll, rent or mortgage, or other operating costs.
Interested businesses should complete the online intake form at businessvitalityalbany.org. A representative from the SBDC will schedule a meeting with the applicant. To be considered for the Small Business Vitality Assistance, all applicants must meet with an SBDC counselor. Questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan said: “Since the moment the pandemic began, the City of Albany has been laser-focused on helping small businesses adapt and overcome the challenges brought on by the shutdown and subsequent recovery. After providing more than $2 million to a variety of small business grant programs through Capitalize Albany and the Albany Community Development Agency, we knew there was more to be done to help support the backbone of our neighborhoods. That is why the City’s COVID Recovery Task Force and ARPA Leadership Team felt so strongly that we fund programs that help our hard-hit small businesses recover and grow, and I commend the Downtown Albany BID and Central Avenue BID for launching this business vitality program that will do just that. Thank you to President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Tonko for making the American Rescue Plan Act a reality and supporting our small businesses.”
Downtown Albany BID Executive Director Georgette Steffens said: “Albany’s locally-owned businesses are what make our city an incredible place to live, work, and recreate. The business owners who invest in their own community are a driving force in our economy, and it is critical we support them as they build back from the devastating effects of the pandemic. We are grateful to the City of Albany and the ARPA Leadership Team for their vision and funding of the Small Business Vitality Assistance program, and to our program partners for taking an active role as we work to assist business owners in covering expenses and expanding their expertise and services."
Central Avenue BID Executive Director Anthony Capece said: "The Small Business Vitality Grants and technical assistance program is a unique opportunity for Albany's small businesses to get a fresh start. We are grateful that the City has seen to it that we work together to provide this kind of financial and entrepreneurial support that will go a long way to reinforce and regrow our small businesses."
Arbor Hill Development Corporation Executive Director Arlene C. Way said: "Small Business Vitality Assistance Program can be a game changer for small and minority-owned businesses in our City. We are honored to be part of this initiative and strongly encourage our local businesses and entrepreneurs to learn about the program and participate!"
Albany NAACP President Debora Brown Johnson said: "This is a great opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The Albany NAACP strongly encourages all small and minority-owned businesses in the City of Albany to avail themselves of this program."