October 18, 2021

Funding sought for business development

Cortland eyes aid for microenterprise grant program

Todd R. McAdam/contributing photographer

The U.S. flag flies over downtown Cortland on in this Cortland Standard file photo.

No one quite knows for sure what life will look like as the state comes out of coronavirus restrictions, but business will not be the same, according to Linda Armstrong, a program manager at Thoma Development Consultants.

“I think things are going to change,” she said. “We’re not going to go back exactly to normal.”

To plan for this, Cortland is seeking funding for the microenterprise program under the Community Development Block Grant Program, according to a statement sent out last week by Mayor Brian Tobin’s office.

“Our small businesses are all hurting and we want to do whatever we can to help them, and to encourage the establishment of new microenterprises in the city,” he said in the statement. “We were able to assist six businesses with the most recent funds provided to the city.”

The program provides funding through grants for existing or developing businesses with five people or fewer, including the employer, to create opportunities for workers with low to moderate income and to help businesses grow, Armstrong said.

Funding for the grants ranges from $5,000 to $35,000 each.

Additionally, there is no repayment to the city as long as the businesses remain in the city for five years, according to the statement.

The city was last awarded funding in December 2018. Previous businesses that received funding included New York Bagel and Global Heart Healing and Massage, both on Main Street.

There is no deadline yet for a submission of an application for $200,000 in funding to the state’s Office of Community Renewal.

Of that money, the program will receive $170,000 if accepted with the rest going to administrative and other service fees, Armstrong said.

Around 12 business owners have requested information and applications for the program, with two sending back pre-applications that show their plans to develop or start their businesses and the costs attached to that.

Although no deadline has been set, Armstrong said that it’s important for the city and businesses to start submitting applications soon.

“Unless we do a good job now marketing this and getting pre-applications, we won’t get a good response from the state,” she said.