Small Massena businesses may apply for block grant funds

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MASSENA — The town of Massena will be lead agent for the State Environmental Quality Review that’s required as part of a grant program to help small business owners.

The SEQR is required under the terms and conditions of the Microenterprise New York State Community Development Block Grant, which is being administered by the Massena Business Development Corporation.

“Because the scope of the work never really involves environmental stuff, you don’t have to do an environmental impact study for any of those things,” BDC Executive Director James Murphy told Massena Town Council members.

Mr. Murphy said owners of businesses with five or fewer employees, including the owner, can apply for grants of up to $35,000 from the $200,000 grant.

Eligible businesses must be owned by a low- or moderate-income person or agree to create one full-time job for a low- to moderate-income income individual. Grant funds can be used to purchase inventory, machinery, furniture, fixtures and equipment and for working capital, including marketing. They cannot be used to repay existing debt or for building improvements.

“Pretty much any valid business purpose, except anything that can be considered structure,” Mr. Murphy said, noting that would create an environmental issue.

Businesses will be required to provide a minimum of 10 percent owner equity contribution in the form of cash for the project. For example, a $20,000 grant would require the owner to pay $2,000. The maximum grant is $35,000.

Mr. Murphy had been gauging interest by having interested individuals fill out a “Town of Massena Microenterprise Program Letter of Interest.”

“We have great interest in the program,” he said.

There’s still a formal application process to receive grant funding, and a board appointed by Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy will make decisions on each application.

“All I do is qualify people,” Mr. Murphy said. “There are some public hearing requirements. As we come out of the pandemic, hopefully those hearings can be held. This is an ongoing thing, so there will be more than one round as we go.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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