Business owners invited to apply for grants

MASSENA — Town of Massena officials are looking for owners of businesses with five or fewer employees, including the owner, who might be interested in a new grant funding opportunity.

Town officials are applying for a $200,000 grant under the Community Development Block Grant Microenterprise Program. If they’re successful with their application, they would be able to provide grants of up to $35,000 to local business owners.

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.

“This is a grant program that helps mom-and-pop businesses. This is specifically a program for five or fewer employees, including the owner. A lot of times, grant programs help bigger corporations. This is a program that specifically targets small mom-and-pop shops,” said James Murphy, executive director of the Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena.

“This is a grant that can be used for almost any valid business purpose — furniture, fixtures, equipment, inventory, even hiring people, which is the other part of this grant,” he said.

They decided not to allow the funding to be used for real property because of the complicated process involved with that or construction, which would open them up to environmental regulations.

“The other great benefit of this program is this is a program designed to create jobs, or pledge to create one full-time job that would be made available to a low- to moderate-income person,” Mr. Murphy said.

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 amount of grant funding is $35,000.

“There are a few hoops that have to be jumped through. One is that for the most part this is a reimbursable grant. So people would spend the money first, bring us the receipts, then they’re reimbursed for their expenses,” he said.

Mr. Murphy said 50 percent of the grants should go to an established business, and 50 percent should be dedicated to start-ups, which are defined by the state as less than six months in business. Among the criteria are businesses that are tourism-based or will set up at vacant storefronts.

“This is a great way to fill some storefronts. I think that’s a priority for both the town and village, whether it’s downtown or at the mall,” Mr. Murphy said.

He said they’ve decided to make the grant open town-wide rather than just within the village limits.

“We wanted to include the full area, some of the corner outside the downtown area. The neat thing about this program is that it covers all the town of Massena. This is one that helps everybody,” he said, noting three businesses at the St. Lawrence Centre mall have already expressed interest in the grant.

At this point, Mr. Murphy said he’s simply trying to gauge interest by having interested individuals fill out a “Town of Massena Microenterprise Program Letter of Interest.” Once the money is received, there will be a formal application process.

For more information, contact Mr. Murphy at 315-769-8484 or via email at jamesmurphy52@me.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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