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Hochul expands eligibility for $800M NY small business COVID-19 relief program

COVID Anniversary 68.JPG

Vitale Income Tax service is doing business through a drive-thru window to minimize person-to-person contact due to the coronavirus pandemic in Auburn, N.Y., March 10, 2021.

With more than 90% of the funds unawarded, Gov. Kathy Hochul is expanding eligibility for an $800 million program to help small businesses recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Beginning Wednesday, businesses with revenues of up to $2.5 million in 2019 can apply for grants — the previous threshold was $500,000 — and the state is also increasing the limit on businesses that received federal Paycheck Protection Program loans, from $100,000 to $250,000. 

New York launched the recovery program in June to help small businesses. In two months, more than $48 million has been awarded to over 2,380 businesses. 

The program is being administered by Empire State Development, New York's economic development arm, and Lendistry, a California-based financial institution. Businesses that weren't eligible for grants may now apply for funding. The applications will be processed beginning on Sept. 8. 

More information can be found at

"Supporting the small businesses across our state that got hit hard by the pandemic is a top priority for my administration," Hochul said. "We simply cannot have a full economic recovery if the small business community continues struggling to survive. With the Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program opening up to a greater pool of businesses, I strongly urge all the owners who qualify to submit their applications so they can access this funding." 

Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, especially in spring 2020 when there were lockdowns and some companies had to temporarily cease operations. While some businesses were forced to close, many others are trying to recover from the pandemic. They are also dealing with other challenges, including supply chain issues and workforce shortages. 

Through the state's grant program, the minimum award is $5,000 and the maximum award is $50,000. The grant will be based on the company's 2019 gross receipts. The funding can be used to reimburse expenses including payroll, mortgage or rent payments, tax payments, insurance and personal protective equipment purchases. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at

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