ALBANY — On Thursday, Dec. 8, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced more than $7 million in economic development funding was made available through the sixth round of his Regional Economic Development Council initiative—a centerpiece of his administration’s strategy to jumpstart the economy and create jobs. The Capital District, one of 10 regions statewide, was awarded $83.1 million to support 116 local projects, one of which will help establish and grow small businesses in the town of Bethlehem.
The town was awarded $200,000 to establish a microenterprise grant program virtually identical to one established in 2014. Under the program, the town may award no less than $5,000 and no more than $35,000 to small businesses, “to support and foster the development of microbusinesses by providing grants in conjunction with capacity building and entrepreneurial assistance.”
Town officials anticipate that the schedule of 2016 grant disbursements will mirror the previous program. Awarded at the end of 2014, Bethlehem began holding information sessions in February and March of 2015 and started accepting applications in March. A Grant Application Review Committee, composed of six residents representing local economic enterprise, met and recommended awards for Town Board approval through September 2015, when the town approved grant awards from $5,400 (for certified in-home trainer Stephanie Hutchins) to $30,000 (for O’Slattery’s Irish Pub) for nine local small businesses — five existing and four new — chosen from 15 applicants. Selected businesses had through the end of 2016 to spend the awarded funds, and the grant will close out with the state this month.
“It was great to learn that Bethlehem received $200,000 from the REDC Competition to continue our Microenterprise Grant Program,” said Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson. “Great work from our Town Economic Development team on securing another round of funding so we can continue to help local small business form and expand.”
Program guidelines define microenterprise as a commercial enterprise that has five or fewer employees, one or more of which is the principal and owns the enterprise at the time of application. Eligible businesses must contribute at least 10 percent of the costs of the project and create one new job made available to persons from low-or moderate income families, or be owned by someone in that category. Additionally, a minimum of 50 percent of grant funds must be awarded to start-up businesses that have been in operation less than six months and businesses receiving grant funds are required participate in an Entrepreneurial Training Program.
Awarded funds may be used for: inventory; the purchase of machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures; working capital; and/or reimbursement of the cost to attend the entrepreneurial training program. They may not be used to purchase real estate, to repay existing debt or to undertake building façade or interior renovations.