Cortland County Business Development Corporation (BDC) officials on Monday proposed three new initiatives to boost local businesses with federal funding.
The three new plans presented by BDC at Monday’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Federal Aid Allocation meeting would use funds from the $ 9.2 million allocation from the US County bailout. Cortland to help with facade improvements, small business expansion, and the acquisition of supplies and inventory.
The committee will vote on these proposals towards the end of October, according to an estimate by Cortland County Legislature Speaker Paul Heider (R-LD 16).
The first initiative presented by BDC is the Cortland County Facade Improvement Program, which calls on businesses to submit proposals to BDC for storefront renovations across the county. BDC will cover 75% of the financing of the renovations with a cap of $ 10,000. The total allocation requested by BDC is $ 250,000.
âOur thought here is to inspire these businesses to invest in themselves by believing that storefronts are important for businesses to run an attractive and productive business,â said BDC Managing Director Gary VanGorder. âMaintaining the integrity of the storefront is important to the merchant community. “
VanGorder said many companies may have embarked on home improvement projects before the pandemic, and this program aims to encourage them to take over said projects.
âThese upgrades increase the value of the property for the owner, make it better for neighboring businesses, and entice people to visit storefronts that may have been overlooked due to (the pandemic),â VanGorder added.
Nonprofits with physical space are also encouraged to apply.
The second program offered by VanGorder is the Small Business Expansion Assistance Program, which targets businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
âThe intention here is to help businesses recover from a difficult time when revenue was scarce and lockdowns were in place,â VanGorder said.
Applicant businesses will receive assistance from BDC to purchase furniture, necessary machinery, software or, in some cases, inventory. The program will cover 75% of the plan submitted by the applicant with a cap of $ 10,000. For this program, VanGorder said BDC is requesting an allocation of $ 200,000 from the county’s American Rescue Plan Money.
âThe proposal can include anything a business could want to use to help themselves recover,â VanGorder said. âWe prohibit refinancing and interim financing. We want to see actual expenses for the business itself.
BDC will request reimbursement of the grant if the applicant’s business closes or moves within three years of approval.
Minority Leader in the County Legislature Beau Harbin (D-LD 2) has said he would like the program to be open to nominations from nonprofits.
âI would like to see a consideration, or at least a discussion, for nonprofits (to take advantage of this program). They provide a lot of service in our community, âsaid Harbin. “(Sometimes) if (the nonprofits) had a small grant, they could provide additional services or bring in an additional staff member, and they impact our community.”
VanGorder noted that BDC wanted this program to be more focused on the retail sector, which he added experienced declining revenues when shelter-in-place measures across the country. state were instituted last year.
VanGorder said the company may review nonprofits as a potential option and make revisions to their proposals accordingly.
The third program presented by VanGorder is the Downtown Business Assistance Program, which reportedly provides grants of up to $ 5,000 to applicants in the retail sector of downtown neighborhoods in the county. BDC is requesting an allocation of $ 100,000 of federal funds for this project.
âPriority will be given to businesses that exist in underutilized or vacant commercial spaces,â VanGorder said. âFor example: companies looking to open small businesses in one of these types of spaces would be prioritized. This is an incentive for businesses that, in the first few months, face working capital issues. We want to create an easier path to success.
Eric Mulvhill, BDC’s community relations specialist, said BDC has already been contacted by two companies requesting financial assistance to add inventory.
Majority Leader in the County Legislature George Wagner asked if the Downtown Business Assistance Program would be suspended in the town of Cortland while the two-way street project for Main Street is under construction.
VanGorder said the city and BDC will need to review applicants on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not to award the money during the construction season.
Mulvhill said companies could potentially use some of the federal money for marketing, reaching out to customers and letting them know their business will be open even during the Main Street overhaul.âThese people may want to do one-on-one marketing to reach their customers and tapping into these sources of income can be beneficial,â he said.
The Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Federal Aid Allocation will meet again on Friday, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. to discuss further federal funding spending proposals.