The Town of Bethlehem won a $200,000 microenterprize grant from the state earlier this month as economic development officials continue to seek-out new avenues to promote growth.
Economic Development Coordinator Elizabeth Staubach researched and applied for the grant during the summer. The award was given as part of New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal for the creation of a Microenterprise Grant Program. Recipients announced during Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council meeting on Friday, Dec. 12.
“This is just another sign of success from the strategies we are taking from the Bethlehem 20/20 Advisory Committee,” said Supervisor John Clarkson. “It’s fantastic because we have funding for the program to start in 2015, and we can now do more to help small businesses grow.”
Clarkson commended Staubach on finding the grant and moving forward with the application. “None of this would have happened without her,” he said.
Bethlehem was awarded the maximum amount provided through the grant. The program works so the town is now able to award smaller, microeconomic grants to current businesses looking to grow within the town, or those looking to move.
Businesses with five or fewer employees are able to apply for the grants, with the town able to give awards between $5,000 and $35,000. A plan for how a business wants to use the money must be submitted, along with proof of the incurred costs. The business then must be able to match at least 10 percent of the project’s costs, with the grant money awarded as a reimbursement.
As part of the state’s rules, at least 50 percent of the money must be awarded to start-up businesses, and all businesses that receive the funds must participate in an entrepreneurial training program. Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region will run the training program for Bethlehem, and topics like financing, marketing, record keeping and accounting will be covered.
Funds can be used for inventory, equipment and working capital, but not to purchase real estate, repay debt and construction work.
All those who want to participate will have to apply for the funds through the Department of Economic Development and Planning to determine eligibility, and then go through a review process. Applications will be reviewed by a microenterprize grant review committee. Members will include Staubach, Joe Richardson from the Bethlehem IDA, Jennifer Kilcoyne, president of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and Rob Leslie, director of Economic Development and Planning.
The supervisor said the thought is to hand out at least 10 microenterprize awards.
According to Staubach, the town will hold several informational meetings in the new year for business owners who are interested in learning more about the grants. The committee would then look to start receiving applications in February, with announcements made in the spring on the winners.
“I think this is really exciting,” said Staubach. “I’m really happy because we put together a good application. This will be a good resource for a lot of small businesses.”
This was the fourth round of funding granted by the Regional Economic Development Council, with $709.2 million awarded altogether throughout the state.
In the Capital District, $60 million was awarded to help fund 93 projects in the area. The top three projects were $1.5 million for the Troy Farmers Market, $1.2 million to Schenectady Metroplex Authority to help revitalize three “blighted” city blocks in downtown Schenectady, and $1 million to modernize the Finch Paper LLC mill in Glens Falls.