ALBANY — Small businesses in New York state that still need a cash infusion to cover costs from the COVID-19 pandemic now have access to a new pool of money.

Starting this week, small businesses can apply for between $5,000 and $50,000 in assistance under the state's new Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program. It is launching after the federal Paycheck Protection Program, created last summer to help small businesses harmed by the pandemic, drew to a close at the end of May.

More than 330,000 small businesses are eligible for the $800 million program, according to the Cuomo administration.

The program is designed to help small businesses cover expenses from March 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021.

Grants can pay for a wide range of expenses, including payroll, commercial rent or mortgage payments, local property or school taxes, insurance premiums and utility costs.

Also covered are costs of personal protective equipment for workers and consumers; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; and other machinery or equipment and supplies needed to comply with pandemic protocols.

The program is different from the federal PPP in a key way, according to Jim Lozano, a partner at the BST & Co. accounting and consulting firm.

While PPP aimed primarily to keep employees on company payrolls and keep businesses open, the new program looks to help small firms recoup some of the costs they incurred at the height of the pandemic.

"They are trying to get them through this next stage of recovery," Lozano said.

To be eligible, a company must have 2019 or 2020 gross receipts between $25,000 and $500,000 per year. The company also must have had

at least $1 profit in 2019 and suffered at least a 25 percent loss in gross receipts in 2019-2020.

Unlike, PPP, business operators can apply online and don't need to go through a bank.

The application site will be powered by Lendistry, a minority-led community development financial institution. That's notable as state officials estimate that 57 percent of the state's certified minority- or woman-owned businesses are eligible for the program.

Another difference is the money from the state will be grants rather than loans. PPP monies were loans although they could be forgiven if businesses used the money for certain purposes such as maintaining their payrolls.

Lozano said his company has been busy helping businesses file the paperwork needed for PPP loan forgiveness.

Likewise, small business operators who are daunted by the substantial paperwork for these assistance programs should consult with a CPA or other similar advisor.

"If you are struggling with things, don't waste time," he advised. "Ask for help."

The grant application site is at nysmallbusinessrecovery.com.

rkarlin@timesunion.com 518 454 5758 @RickKarlinTU

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