Jan. 19, 2021 By Christina Santucci
City and borough officials announced a new $15 million grant program Tuesday to help Queens small businesses that are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Queens Small Business Grant Program was launched today and provides up to $20,000 to each recipient, with the funding provided by Steve Cohen, the new owner of New York Mets.
To be eligible, a business owner must have a storefront or be a street vendor and be located in one of the borough’s low-to-moderate income zip codes — or in an area designated as one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. Applicants must have employed 20 or fewer full-time workers in 2019.
“No borough has been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous economic fallout than Queens, where countless small businesses…are facing unprecedented uncertainty through no fault of their own,” said Donovan Richards, Queens Borough President, in a statement. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, and no expense must be spared to prevent even a single closure.”
The program is focused on small and micro businesses. Applicants must show that in 2019 their gross revenue was no more than $1 million, for restaurants no more than $3 million.
Steve Cohen, who purchased the Mets in September, donated the funds for the program.
“We are proud to support small business owners during this difficult time, just as they have supported the team and the community over the years. We hope this donation brings them some relief,” he said in a statement.
Richards said the program also aims to help minority-owned businesses and street vendors, who have been disproportionately impacted over the last nine months.
Mohamed Attia, director of the Street Vendor Project of the Urban Justice Center, said in a statement that previous aid packages had left out street vendors. “Street vendors are part of the culture and fabric of NYC but unfortunately they have suffered mightily during this current pandemic and have been all but abandoned by COVID-19 recovery efforts,” he said.
The program will see 30 percent of the grants dedicated for restaurants and street vendors.
Pursuit, which provides business lending, is administering the grant program and will partner with local community organizations including the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, Renaissance EDC and Queens Chamber of Commerce to initially offer $15 million worth of grants.
An additional $2.5 million is being set aside for small business support later in the year.
Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Grech applauded the city for the program.
“Sadly, too many small businesses in Queens have closed their doors to customers for good due to the pandemic, and those that have survived face an uncertain future without immediate help,” Grech said. “This is a grand slam that will resonate across the entire borough.”
Additional information is available on the Queens borough president’s website.