ALBANY, NY (WIVB) – Thursday’s noon signaled the start of a new day for small businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. An 800 million dollar grant program goes into operation, but corporate leaders also urge caution.
The state program is providing grants of up to $ 50,000 to help small businesses hit by the pandemic get back on their feet. But business leaders also point out that a program with that kind of money is likely to attract scammers.
The state’s Small Business Recovery Grant program offers grants ranging from $ 800 million up to $ 50,000 for small businesses, micro-businesses, and even sole proprietorships that have been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matthew Kennedy of Empire State Development said, “Priority will be given to socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, including, but not limited to, minority and women-owned companies.” He added, “It cannot be a nonprofit or church or religious institution. It cannot be a government agency or an elected official, civil servant or company engaged in lobbying, political or political office. “
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the small business grants two weeks ago as part of a $ 3.5 billion aid program to help tenants stave off evictions and landlords avoid foreclosure after not collecting rent for more than a year .
“We’re always looking for everyone to make sure you’re not getting scammed or going to the wrong source,” says Melanie McGovern of the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.
McGovern and the BBB hosted the Empire State Development webcast announcing the start of the application deadline for the redevelopment grant programs. Empire State Development manages the program, but a nongovernmental agency called Lendistry hosts the website and processes applications. The BBB fears that if applicants search for the right website that looks like this online, they could land on fraudulent websites.
“People will set up links to trick you into believing you are applying for these loans. So make sure you use the links we send you in the emails. Make sure you don’t click the first link that comes up if you have a New York State scholarship program from Google, ”said McGovern.