Cuomo: New York to launch $100M small business loan program

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ALBANY – New York is launching a $100 million small business loan program to help keep businesses that have been ravaged financially by the mandated closures of non-essential workplaces to stem the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday.

“They are 90 percent of New York state’s businesses and they are facing the toughest challenges,” the governor said during a news conference in New York City.

The New York Forward Loan Fund will offer flexible and affordable loans to help small businesses that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance, Cuomo said. It will focus on minority- and women-owned businesses, which have received far less federal aid, he said.

While over 271,000 businesses throughout New York have benefited from the federal government’s forgivable Paycheck Protection Program, it was initially hampered by rollout glitches and large companies snagging funds before Main Street businesses got a chance.

New York’s program targets businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues, and includes small landlords who have seen lost income, according to Empire State Development.

The loan fund is timed as regions begin to reopen, and the money will serve to assist businesses with upfront costs associated with complying with guidelines such as refitting for new social distancing protocols.

Pre-applications will be available beginning at noon Tuesday, May 26. Priority will be given to businesses that have reopened, and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as regions and industries reopen. To learn more about New York’s small business relief funding, visit Empire State Development’s website.

Unlike the federal funding, the loans are not forgivable and must be paid back over a five-year term with interest. The state has also created “geographically (proportional) goals” for distributing the funds, with New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley allocated the most at 30 percent, 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

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The remaining regions will be allocated about 4 percent each of the funding, with Western New York allocated 8 percent, according to the application details.

The state’s small business loan program comes as New York continues to see coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline, and multiple regions in New York begin a phased reopening of their economies. Deaths from the virus have hovered at about 100 per day of late, with New York seeing 109 deaths on Thursday, which is four more than Wednesday.

New York is also launching a pilot program with 52 independent pharmacies to conduct 7,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests per week, which boosts testing sites across the state to 750, Cuomo said.

The governor encouraged New Yorkers to get a test if they are experiencing symptoms or were exposed to someone who tested positive.

Cuomo said numbers in the Mid-Hudson Valley and Long Island regions indicate those regions could be poised to begin reopening soon, and so New York is allowing construction projects there to begin staging materials in preparation of that.

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