State COVID-19 funds available for newer small businesses

State COVID-19 funds available for newer small businesses

Since COVID-19, there have been several small business relief programs to help those negatively impacted by the pandemic. These programs came with eligibility criteria, a common one being the business had to be open prior to a certain date. This criteria excluded several early-stage small businesses and entrepreneurs from receiving any benefits. Fortunately, New York state recently announced a Seed Funding Grant Program to ensure small businesses that opened shortly before or during the COVID-19 pandemic will have the funds to continue to operate and grow.

This grant will support these early stage, micro and small businesses, including independent arts contractors who started their business on Sept. 1, 2018, or later, and have been operational for at least six months before submitting an application. Businesses must also have at least $5,000 in gross receipts and no more than $1 million, annually. The amount of the grant ranges from $5,000 to $25,000 and is based upon the most recently filed tax returns. For applicants who have not yet filed a federal tax return, the grant amount is $5,000.

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The program is administered by a minority-led small business lender, Lendistry. This is the same group that managed the state COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, which was available to businesses that began operations on or before March 1, 2019, but it closed to new applications on Sept. 30, 2022. This earlier program, which launched last year, delivered more than $639 million to over 35,000 small businesses, with 90% of funding having gone to minority and women-owned businesses!

For the seed grant, a few of the program requirements are that the business is registered to do business in New York state, and that the business is currently viable, in compliance, and does not owe any taxes. The business may not be eligible if it has already received COVID-19 economic recovery or business assistance grant programs, such as the previously mentioned COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program. Other ineligible businesses are nonprofits, churches and other religious institutions; government-owned entities or elected official offices; businesses primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities; and landlords and passive real estate businesses. For a full list of eligible business qualifications, please visit

Some of the documentation that will be required of applicants is proof of gross receipts (federal tax returns, or bank statements for those that have not yet filed a tax return), proof of business organization, proof of business location, schedule of ownership for any owner with more than 20% ownership, and bank account information. The website lists several examples of acceptable documentation.

The specialists at the Cayuga Economic Development Agency have been working diligently over the last few years to help Cayuga County businesses navigate the maze of relief programs that have been offered since the pandemic. There have been federal, state and local programs, all with varying eligibility requirements and application processes. CEDA regularly meets with business owners to assess their situation and guide them to the correct program or resource partner.

As the economic development organization serving all private businesses in Cayuga County, CEDA works to support and spur economic development through business retention, expansion and attracting other businesses to expand or relocate here. CEDA administers various programs and works collaboratively with regional and state partners to connect our businesses to the right resources. The best part is that the services of CEDA’s specialists are free and confidential.

CEDA staff can be reached at (315) 252-3500, or visit for more information and email addresses.

For the best way to learn about existing or upcoming grants, funding opportunities, programs or trainings, please subscribe to CEDA’s newsletter via the website or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information about the Cayuga Economic Development Agency, call (315) 252-3500 or visit

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