Business group seeks to pare requests for $200K grant

James Murphy, executive director for the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena, is working with businesses to pare down their wish lists for micro-enterprise grant funding. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The executive director for the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena is working with businesses to pare down their wish lists for micro-enterprise grant funding.

James Murphy said $200,000 in funding is available. But, if they fulfilled every funding request, it would be double what’s available.

“We’re reviewing 16 applications right now, which is crazy. The requests are almost $400,000. The grant is under $200,000. This is part of what’s taking a lot of time. I’ve gone back to each one of those people and said, ‘OK, what do you really need?’ It is somewhat of a negotiation, and everyone has been really patient and great about the process because it is one of those drawn-out kind of things with different hoops along the way,” Mr. Murphy said.

Despite those hoops, Mr. Murphy said that in the end, individuals will get funded.

“I know. I’ve done a bunch of these,” he said.

Existing and start-up businesses with five or fewer employers, including the owner, were invited to apply for up to $30,000 in grant funding to help their business and create job opportunities for low-to-moderate income households. Mr. Murphy said five of the requests were new or start-up businesses, while others were from some town-wide, downtown and mall businesses.

The program, which is being administered by the BDC, has $200,000 available for the acquisition of machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, working capital, inventory and other valid businesses purposes. Construction, renovations and the acquisition of real property are not eligible.

The smallest request was $3,500, and the largest was the full $30,000.

A Grant Review Committee has been set up by town of Massena officials to review the applications, and Mr. Murphy said his goal was to spread the money to as many individuals as possible, even if everyone wasn’t getting the $30,000 maximum.

Businesses that are selected to receive funding must complete an eight-hour entrepreneurship training course and meet certain job creation requirements. They must also contribute 10% equity to the project.

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