Local Leaders Announce Assistance Opportunities for State Pandemic Small Businesses Recovery Grant Program

Posted on June 2, 2021

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Assemblyman Stirpe Championed Small Business Relief in NYS Budget Process. 

CenterState CEO and South Side Innovation Center, others designated as technical assistance providers for business

Syracuse, NY – CenterState CEO along with New York State Assemblyman Al Stirpe, the South Side Innovation Center, and other local leaders highlighted the impact the state’s COVID-19 Pandemic Small Businesses Recovery Grant Program will have on small businesses in the community. The $800 million program begins accepting applications in one week and will provide grants and technical assistance to small businesses and microbusinesses with less than 10 employees that have experienced hardship during the pandemic. The program gives priority to socially and economically disadvantaged business owners. Flexible grants up to $50,000 will be made available to eligible small businesses and can be used for operating expenses, including payroll, rent or mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, personal protective equipment, or other business expenses incurred during the pandemic.

As chair of the Assembly Small Business Committee, and co-chair of an Assembly Working Group focused on New York’s economic recovery from COVID-19, Assemblyman Al Stirpe was an outspoken advocate for small businesses funding in the state budget.

“As a former small-business owner, and having grown up working at my father’s diner, I know how much energy and effort people put into their businesses to get them off the ground and keep them viable,” said Assemblyman Stirpe (D-Cicero). “In the past year and a half, too many business owners have seen that work and their dream disappear. Last spring and into the summer, the Assembly Standing Committee on Small Business held a series of hearings to ask small-business owners what they needed to survive this pandemic. We took some of that input and shared it with our federal partners, so they could improve the second round of their pandemic support programs. Then we took the rest of the ideas and put together the $800 million grant program we are talking about today. It was a long, hard fight to get this support in the budget at this level. But in the weeks and months ahead, I am hopeful these efforts will help save small businesses in our state, and position more of them to prosper.”

Applications for the program will be accepted starting June 10. The program is administered by Empire State Development Corporation. CenterState CEO, the South Side Innovation Center, Onondaga Small Business Development Center and the Cortland Chamber of Commerce have been designated by Empire State Development as technical assistance providers to help businesses to navigate the application process. More on the program and its eligibility requirements can be found here.

“We have heard directly from so many businesses, hit hard by the pandemic, about the multitude of challenges they face, including the need for critical grant funding,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO. “Through this program businesses will have access to needed resources for recovery. We are ready to support businesses to help them to better understand the program and how they can access state and federal grants, so they can position themselves for successful applications and continue to drive our regional economy.”

“Since our inception in 2006, the South Side Innovation Center, a Community Outreach Program of the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, has been committed to providing guidance and support to aspiring and established business owners,” said El-Java Abdul-Qadir, director of the South Side Innovation Center. “Specifically, we have used our Inclusive Entrepreneurship approach to address the needs of individuals from some of the most marginalized communities as they start and expand their businesses. We are excited about New York State’s commitment to small business recovery. We also realize that this much needed financial support for small businesses may not reach everyone who is eligible. SSIC is looking forward to providing information, technical assistance, and support to small businesses within our region who seek to benefit from this initiative.” 

More than 330,000 small and micro businesses are potentially eligible for this program, including 57% of the state's certified MWBEs. Reimbursable COVID-19 related expenses must have been incurred between March 1, 2020, and April 1, 2021.

“Small businesses were devastated by the pandemic,” said Assemblymember Pamela J. Hunter (D-Syracuse). “With reopening well underway, this assistance will help businesses get back on their feet, providing new opportunities in our communities and accelerating our overall economic recovery.”

“Local businesses are the backbone of our communities. The COVID pandemic had a harsh impact on them over the last year,” said Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse, Geddes, Van Buren). “New York State is stepping up to help them recover from the pandemic and to give them a boost toward a more prosperous future.”

Central New York designated assistance centers include:


CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity

115 W. Fayette Street

Syracuse, NY 13202


Contact: CenterState CEO Director of Community Investment Andrew Obernesser at aobernesser@centerstateceo.com.


Syracuse University - South Side Innovation Center

2610 South Salina Street

Syracuse, NY 13205



Onondaga Small Business Development Center

Onondaga Community College

4926 Onondaga Road, Mulroy Hall

Syracuse, NY 13215-4585




Cortland Area Chamber of Commerce

83 Main Street

PO Box 427

Cortland, NY 13045


Additional information on the program can be found at Empire State Development’s website.

Images and video clips from the media event held June 3 at 1 p.m. can be found here. Media may include these with their reporting with credit to CenterState CEO.

About CenterState CEO

CenterState CEO is an independent and forward thinking economic development strategist, business leadership organization and chamber of commerce; dedicated to the success of its members and the prosperity of the region. We serve as an advocate and resource for smart business, catalyze and facilitate regional growth, and promote community prosperity through results-driven partnerships, planning and problem-solving. www.centerstateceo.com

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